March 2009
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March 2009

  Special educational pages from this month
Hearst Castle gallery
Naval missile and plane display
Reagan Museum and Presidential Library
Titan Missle Meseum
Saguaro Cactus

View entire year's route With Google Earth 546K
View year's Camps With Google Earth 90K
View this month's route With Google Earth 67K
Sunday, March 1
Stovepipe Wells Village   Death Valley, CA Locate this campground with Google Earth $30.58 per night
We're still in the same campground, but I figured it would be best to repeat the first day header because of the new month. Today was an easy going day. Frank spent time working on these webpages and further developing the Google Placemarks. Tom caught up on little chores around the trailer and email writing, the sending will have to wait till tomorrow when we have an Internet connection. In the afternoon we took another photography tour by the same ranger. Picture Gallery   This time the talk was in Golden Canyon, a beautiful location. In years past there use to be a paved road going up into this canyon; however, the rains kept washing out the road so in the 1970s, they decided to abandon the road, but you can still see some of the pavement in places. In the evening we decided that we will move on to newer locations in the morning.
Monday, March 2 Todays route using Google Earth
Edwards AFB FamCamp, Lancaster, CA W Locate this campground with Google Earth $15.00 per night  
We packed up and left Stovepipe Wells this morning and headed west. In about 14 miles the elevation increased from sea level at the campground to over 5,000 feet. We crossed the mountains that form the western side of Death Valley and descended into the Panamint Valley which is almost as large, but not as deep as Death Valley. Near the edge of the park we stopped for a brief rest at Father Crowley Point Locate with Google Earth with spectacular views. Picture Gallery   In one photo you can see the road we had used coming out of Death Valley. Once outside the park we turned southward before ending our drive in Edwards Air Force Base just a few miles from the runway where the space shuttle lands if it is forced to stop in California.

Tuesday, March 3
Today was a work day. Tom did shopping and laundry while Frank fixed a few things around the trailer and caught up on web page work. We are having a problem with one of the gray water tank valves which broke last night. Frank was able to jerry rig it until we can get to a repair shop on Friday.

Wednesday, March 4 Todays route using Google Earth
Bakersfield RV Resort   Bakersfield, CA Locate this campground with Google Earth $35.10 per night
Over the last few days Frank has had some serious problems with a rash. We think it is the same soap allergy he had last summer. Tom washed all his clothes again using just water. Today much of the rash has eased. We began today taking a short drive to look at some planes parked in a small museum on base. Picture Gallery   Then we hooked up and headed west again toward Bakersfield. Along the way we went through some mountains and rain passing many wind turbines generating electricity.   We passed many very pretty green hills with lots of golden flowers blooming. Picture Gallery   We arrived in Bakersfield in a rain storm.

Thursday, March 5
No special events today. Frank finished a project remoting the front trailer jacks. Now we can stand next to the truck as we hook up the trailer which makes it easier to manage the height to fit the hitch. Tom had a crown pop off a few days ago, so he went to a local dentist to get it reseated. General cleaning and small projects all around.

Friday, March 6
This morning we got up early and took the trailer across the street to Camping World for some needed repairs. A few weeks ago one of our sewer valves broke and was stuck open. The entire valve and remote cable control had to be replaced. 4 days ago one of our window shades fell off and Frank was unable to get it back up so we had Camping World fix that too, and a minor item, replacing a broken running light lens. In the afternoon Tom went to a local clinic to have his broken ribs x-rayed again. It took 4 hours, but everything is going just as it should. He should be completely healed in about another week. We purchased a water softener this morning and while Tom was at the doctors, Frank got it hooked up and running. We went to a very nice restaurant which is part of the campground for dinner. It was chilly, but we ate outside under gas heaters because the restaurant was crowded and they had these nice outside heaters and a fireplace. Before we left several other groups chose to eat outside too. Last night Frank found that our favorite cowboy singer, Dave Stamey, is having a show in Visalia about 50 miles north of here, but after calling the shop where the show is to be held we were informed the performance had sold out months ago so we missed out on that one.

Saturday, March 7 Todays route using Google Earth
After a short run to the grocery store and a filling of diesel fuel we set off on our daily journey. We had planned on going south about 20 miles and taking a scenic route through the mountains. However, a short way after getting on CA route 99 we saw a notice sign saying our planned road, CA 166, was closed through the mountains and to look for other routes. Tom quickly found another route which would take us along state road 58. But at McKittrick Locate with Google Earth   we came across a sign that said this road not advisable for vehicles longer than 30 feet. Our trailer and truck are over 50 feet. Backing up, we went north, paralleling our trip southward, but in the opposite direction until we got to CA route 46 which was open to the coast. Along our route we passed a number of places which turned out to be quite interesting after we looked them up on the Internet this evening. First was what must be the largest power switching and transformer station Frank has ever seen at the small village of Kilowatt. Locate with Google Earth   Next we passed through part of the Midway-Sunset Oil Field, which after a bit of research we found to be the third largest producing oil field in the US. W Locate with Google Earth Picture Gallery   Over a distance of a few miles we passed literally thousands of oil wells packed more closely than we have ever seen, almost all of which were hard at work pumping black gold. About 50 miles further on we passed an intersection which meant nothing special to us until later in the evening when Frank was mapping out our daily route and happened to see a Wikipedia icon on the spot. Turns out that was the place where James Dean died in an auto accident back in 1955. W Locate with Google Earth And finally, as we came around a curve on US 101, we spied the Pacific Ocean as can be seen to the right of this webcam shot.   Later in the evening, Tom and I took a little stroll along the beach and watched the sun go down over the Pacific Ocean. Picture Gallery  

Sunday, March 8
Today we visited the historic Dana Adobe Locate with Google Earth Picture Gallery of which the original owner is referred to in one of our favorite cowboy songs, Dave Stamey's, "The Vaquero Song". The adobe was built between 1837 and 1851 by Captain William Dana who operated a large cattle ranch there.   You can find out more about the Adobe and its owner on their web site. We ended the day by driving north about 20 miles to check out a state park campground we hope to stay in for the next few days. We need to call them in the morning to see if we can get in.

Monday, March 9 Todays route using Google Earth
Morro Bay State Park   Morro Bay, CA Locate this campground with Google Earth $27.00 per night
We packed up this morning and moved about 20 miles south to Morro Bay. A beautiful state park which includes beaches and the largest estuary in California. After settling down and resting we walked to their little natural history museum which was quite nice. Picture Gallery   The round mountain seen in these photos is called Morro Rock W and is one of a number of volcanic plugs which formed some three million years ago along a series of tectonic plates. The rocks around them has worn away in the interim leaving the plugs as mountains out at sea. Later we went to dinner at a very nice seafood restaurant in town called Dockside. Afterward we drove out to the rock and Frank took some more night shots. Picture Gallery  

Tuesday, March 10
Today was a busy one beginning with a visit to the magnificent Hearst Castle. Sometimes referred to as San Simeon, this huge estate was built by the newspaper magnet William Randolph Hearst. A fabulous place to visit. I shot so many good photos that this link goes to its own gallery. Locate with Google Earth   Picture Gallery   On the way back we stoped at several pull-outs along the coast road. Picture Gallery   Then in the evening after dinner we drove back out to Morro Rock and Frank tried some more night shots with a tripod this time. Picture Gallery  

Wednesday, March 11
This morning we drove south to Montaña de Oro State Park W Locate with Google Earth where we had a wonderful guided walk by local docent Randy. Locate with Google Earth   It was a very personal experience because is was just us and one other very nice couple, Betsy and Bob, who were on a vacation in the area. What was supposed to be a two hour walk turned into a four hour adventure, but we had a great time talking all about the local flora, fauna and geology of this beautiful, eroded landscape, and everything else too. Picture Gallery   We saw lots of wildlife including a rattle snake, ground squirrels, an otter and many birds. One point of interest, at the far end of our hike we were at the northern border fence of the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant. W Locate with Google Earth

Thursday, March 12 Todays route using Google Earth
Vandenburg AFB Famcamp   CA W Locate this campground with Google Earth $19.00 per night
A basic move south for us today. We are en route to another military installation which we expect to spend the next 2 to 3 nights. Vandenberg is where the Air Force tests rockets such as ballistic missiles. It is also where most of the satellites for military and commercial use are shot up from which aren't launched from Cape Canaveral Florida so security was tight getting in. This is a nice Famcamp. Good spacing between sites, open fields border the campground on one side and woods on the other. Much better than Edwards AFB was.
Friday, March 13 Todays route using Google Earth
For the last few days of travel we have been traveling along the El Camino Real along the California coast. W The route is marked with bells on top of poles. Picture Gallery   Today as we drove along we stopped at a rest area for lunch and Frank noticed some geology markers. This area is unusual as being the only mountains along the California coast that go east and west instead of north and south. Picture Gallery   From the air one can see the change from sandstone to shale and clays by the distinctive change in foliage. In this Google Earth placemark the change shows between the rough brown on the left to the smoother brown on the right. W Locate with Google Earth   The current satellite image was shot in November 29, 2006. In March this year there is much more green visible. Just beyond the rest area the road comes to the Pacific ocean and turns southward. As we drove along we could see a number of off-shore oil drilling platforms. In the last photo we can see one of the old bridges built in the early 20th century. Beyond that is a railroad bridge and we can just make out an oil platform on the horizon. Picture Gallery  

Saturday, March 14
Not a whole lot today. Frank got meds from a CVS pharmacy today, after a Long's pharmacy messed up both his prescription and insurance last night. CVS corrected all the problems and filled 5 prescriptions today. Tom shopped at the Post Exchange and Commissary, then did laundry. We did little chores around the trailer. We walked on the beach before dinner. Hopefully tomorrow we will visit President Reagan's burial site and library.

Sunday, March 15
Today was a visit to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum. Locate with Google Earth   Located on a beautiful location in Simi Valley, California, the museum contained thousands of items which belonged to President and Nancy Reagan. Including the Boeing 707 airplane which was used as Air Force One W during the Reagan years, as well as the terms of several other Presidents. We were also fortunate to be able to view one of the 4 only remaining copies of the original Magna Carta which was on loan to the museum for a month. W Sorry no photos were allowed in the Magna Carta room or inside Air Force One. Picture Gallery   On the way back to the trailer we stopped to view an exhibit of planes and missiles on display by Point Mugu. This is a gallery page with descriptions from the interpretive signs in the display. Picture Gallery  

Monday, March 16 Todays route using Google Earth
Willow Oaks Estates campground   Hesperia, CA Locate this campground with Google Earth $32.00 per night
We're moving again, this time eastward. We are headed for Twentynine Palms, but wanted to stop off about half way to avoid too long a drive. This campground is a park intended as a permanent manufactured housing development, with a few campsites for overnighters. Not a bad stay for one night, nice lady in office, clean, but the overnight sites, with only about 6 feet between, would be cramped if they were full. Along the way we stopped along the road for lunch next to a cherry orchard and the trees are just starting to bloom. Picture Gallery  
Tuesday, March 17 Todays route using Google Earth
The beginning of our drive today was through heavy traffic. Amazing how much traffic we found in a desert. Later miles along our route the traffic eased, the houses became sparse, and the scenery was beautiful.   This campground is basically a parking lot but is clean and will do fine for a couple of nights as we visit Joshua Tree National Park. We had thought of staying at the nearby Twentynine Palms Marine Corps W Famcamp, but after taking a look it wasn't any better than here and didn't have Internet available. Frank is still playing with night photography. Picture Gallery  

Wednesday, March 18
Today we toured Joshua Tree National Park. Todays tour in Google Earth W   Today's entry includes a new feature showing our route through the park. If you have Google Earth installed, I recommend you first open our route (red Google Earth icon above). Leave Google Earth open, then as you look at the individual photos from the galley below, select the Google Earth placemarks in the lower right hand corner of the photos and you can see where each photo was taken in relationship to our tour through the park. The Joshua Tree is neither a tree nor a cactus, but a member of the lilly family. When the Mormon explorers first encountered these interesting plants, they felt the odd uplifted branches reminded them of Joshua of the Bible welcoming them. On our tour, we saw many geologic features and varied plant life. We even saw a few animals. I would encourage you to explore the park's website, linked above, for much history, geology and interesting pages on the plants of the park. There are some really interesting pages on the minors of the region and the Native Americans who lived in the area. Today's gallery contains many photos of the mountains and plants in Joshua Tree. Picture Gallery  

Thursday, March 19 Todays route using Google Earth
Shadow Hills RV Resort   Indio, CA Locate this campground with Google Earth $51.98 per night
A nice campground, but pricey. We moved from Twentynine Palms southward to Indio which is just east of Palm Springs. After unhooking the trailer we noticed 2 of our trailer tires are shot. The steel belts are showing through the sides of the tires. After Frank picked up his meds from a local pharmacy, we drove over to look at a tire place to see how difficult it will be to get in. We have set up an appointment for tomorrow to have them replaced. We also need to get the axle straightened, but the only place in town that can handle something this big can't get us in until next week. So we will move on and try to find a place in Phoenix or Tucson. We got salt for the water softener and that is now putting out nice soft water again after having run out of softening ability about 2 days ago.

Friday, March 20
This morning Frank wandered around and took some flower pictures. Picture Gallery   Then we took the trailer to the tire store and had 3 tires replaced. Good thing we noticed the problem when we did, I don't think they would have lasted another hundred miles before breaking up. Picture Gallery   Later Tom did laundry and Frank played on the computer, so what else is new? (grin) Frank has figured out how to merge our route files so now you can see an entire month's drive or the entire year on one page. See top and bottom of each page for links.

Saturday, March 21 Todays route using Google Earth
Mayflower County Park   Blythe, CA Locate this campground with Google Earth $22.00 per night
This is a county park. Rather nice, but could be better organized. The view to the west has a bunch of old stored trailers, but to the east is the Colorado river and the mountains of Arizona. The mountains all around us are beautiful and tonight we saw a spectacular sunset.  
Sunday, March 22 Todays route using Google Earth
Augie's Quail Trail RV Park   Gila Bend, AZ Locate this campground with Google Earth $21.00 per night
We are in a true desert campground, but very nice. Clean, very wide sites and extremely friendly owners. Crossing the desert today we saw areas which had obviously had recent rains. The flowers were everywhere along with many different kinds of cactus. I keep repeating myself about how beautiful I think the mountains of this region are. Later this afternoon the wind picked up and is gusting around 40 mph. The region is under wind advisory warnings, but it should calm down by eleven tonight.  
Monday, March 23 Todays route using Google Earth
Shadow Ridge RV Resort   Ajo, AZ Locate this campground with Google Earth $18.00 per night See Camp Club discount info on help page
This morning we picked up mail and stopped by a local city museum which was interesting. Locate with Google Earth   We then hooked up and drove south about 50 miles to Ajo. In the late afternoon we took a drive around town and viewed a large open pit copper mine which is now closed, but can be clearly seen in this Google Earth view. W Locate with Google Earth   We then drove downtown and found ourselves in a beautiful town center with an historic railroad station that has been restored with restaurants and small shops.  

Tuesday, March 24
We spent today touring Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument. Locate with Google Earth   You can find some descriptions on the bottom of the photos.  

Wednesday, March 25 Todays route using Google Earth
Davis-Monthan AFB (overflow area)   Tucson, AZ Locate this campground with Google Earth $7.00 per night
We were in an overflow area tonight with no hookups so this entry was written the next day. On our route today we saw a coyote crossing the road and passed a group of border patrol guards who had caught a Mexican trying to sneak in. We also passed Kitt Peak observatory. W We may go back for a tour if time permits. We stopped for a moment at an historical marker where there once was a gold mining town.  
Thursday, March 26 Todays route using Google Earth
Davis-Monthan AFB   Tucson, AZ Locate this campground with Google Earth $17.00 per night
Today we moved to the full hookup area of this campground. I am having problems with my main computer. Yesterday I browsed to a website that tried to give me a virus. The virus was stopped by my anti virus software but something has happened with many software components on my machine, including the dialogue boxes that allow me to extract Google Earth location information from my photos. Friday we are going to a local tour, so I will be spending Saturday rebuilding this computer. I will get the photos and other log entries done after the rebuild. Well it turns out that I was able to repair my computer with a lot of scanning and such so a rebuild won't need to be done at this time.

Friday, March 27
Today we visited the Pima Air & Space Museum. At the museum we had a docent give us an hour tour. Among the interesting items were Air Force One which was used by Presidents Kennedy and Johnson. Then Air Force Two used by Vice President Gore. Later we saw the actual aircraft that carried the US hostages from Iran (flown by other nation's carriers into Germany) and then flown on to the USA on this US plane. We saw a lot of planes used in WW II, And a display of pieces of "Lady Luck" which crashed in the Libyan desert. The navigator was lost and all decided to parachute, and in the desert they all died. Had they stayed with the plane when it crashed, they may have been saved.   Then we entered Davis-Monthan Air Force Base's "Boneyard" W on a guided bus tour. The Air Force does not like that term. Here are over 4,200 planes in moth balls. 10% of the planes are refurbished and sent back to duty. Others are used as spare parts for both ours and many foreign Governments. Last year alone, this base sold $ 500,000,000 worth of spare parts. They make $10 for every dollar of labor spent. This base is here because the humidity is low, but strangely, the last time we were here in 1989-1991, it snowed.  

Saturday, March 28
Today we visited the Titan Missile Museum in Green Valley Arizona. This is the only remaining Titan missle site that was not destroyed as part of the treaty that ended the cold war. With permission from the USSR we were allowed to preserve this one site after they confirmed it had been thoroughly deactivated and made unusable as a launch site. This is a full gallery with overview text, rather than a popup window.  

Sunday, March 29
Our outing for today was to Saguaro National Park west of Tucson. Another spectacular park in the Sonoran Desert. Many of the cactus are blooming and as in other areas things are greener than at any of our past visits. Here again I have decided to create an informative gallery so please enjoy.  

Monday, March 30
We spent the day visiting the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum Locate with Google Earth which is a world-renowned zoo, natural history museum and botanical garden, all in one place. We saw interpretive displays of living animals and plants native to the Sonoran Desert region. Within the Museum grounds are more than 300 animal species and 1200 kinds of plants on display, alive in their natural desert settings. There are almost two miles of paths traversing 21 acres of beautiful desert. For anyone visiting Tucson, this is a must see. If possible you should set aside at least two days to visit, there is just so much to see and learn. We only had one day and we were saturated.  

Tuesday, March 31
Today was a work day to catch up on chores. Tom did some shopping, Frank bought a new tripod and fancy tripod head. Tomorrow we move on to our next destination.