Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Into the Desert

It has been several weeks since we have had reliable internet service but things seem to be working at the moment, so here I am.  We have been keeping busy since last we communicated. After leaving our friends in Central California we headed over to Nevada and Arizona to find some sunshine and warm weather.  Wind and rain were left behind as we traveled inland from the coast.  Sandy beaches gave way to sagebrush and Joshua Tree cactus. 

At the end of our drive we settled into our rv park under the clear blue skies of Barstow, CA.

Traveling through the desert brought back many childhood memories for me.  My dad was stationed at the military base there when I was a little girl, and my two younger brothers were born at the military hospital.  In many ways little seems to have changed.

Looking out over the desert floor, which looked surprisingly green because of the recent rains, I could still see the word Calico written on the side of the mountain  There is old ghost town nestled up in those mountains.  You can read about it here.

My parents would take us up there often as my dad had a part time job on the weekends driving a little train that would take people around the edge of the town and into an old silver mine. We would ride on his train over and over, or we could wander through the town while he was working, poking around in the old buildings and riding the burros up and down the streets.  It was a wonderful place to spend a Sunday afternoon.

At the corner of the old road that led up to Calico there was an old diner where we stopped for breakfast.  The outside has obviously been updated. but upon talking with our server we learned that the diner had been there since the 50's.  It made me wonder if our family had ever stopped in for a soda after a hot afternoon in the mountains.

Two lane highways have given way to interstates but many of those roads are still around.  They were built to follow the dips and hills in the terrain and when a car would suddenly dip I remember that it would cause that butterfly feeling of a sudden drop.  We called them "tickle tummy" roads.  As I looked out over one of those roads I was suddenly filled with the sound of voices in my head, the small voices of four little children calling out in the back seat of our station wagon, "Daddy! Daddy! Can we please go on the tickle tummy road?  Please Daddy".  Followed by sounds of childhood laughter as we dipped and sped on our way.  My dad and all my brothers are with The Lord now, but the memory lives on in my heart, tender and bittersweet.

I mustn't allow myself to become melancholy so, finally leaving Barstow behind we headed to Las Vegas, NV, another place I grew up visiting often,as I had family there.  I have watched that place change from a small city in the middle of the desert to the famous destination it has become. The hotels are gigantic, each one taking up more than a city block and each with their own theme.  It's always interesting to take a walk along The Strip.

Outside the Mirage

Inside and outside the Venitian

The conservatory at the Bellagio celebrating the Chinese New Year. 

Most people think The Strip is all there is to Las Vegas, but once you get away from the tourists and the casinos it's much like any other city in the country with other things to see and do.  We spent a week in the area visiting family and soaking up some sunshine, which gave us an opportunity to drive out to see Hoover Dam.

The city of Las Vegas could not exist if it were not this amazing feat of engineering, built during the Great Depression,  When Hoover Dam was completed in 1935 it was the tallest dam in the world at that time, and it was considered one of the great engineering wonders of the world.  It supplies water and electricity to most of the Southwest including California, Nevada and Arizona.  

The dam spans across the Colorado River which is the natural state line between Nevada and Arizona. An interesting little tidbit is that as you walk across the dam, you also cross a time line.  The Nevada side of the dam is Pacific Time while the Arizona side is Mountain time.

Here we are standing on the dam looking down to the river below. It's easy to get a feel for how tall it is from here.  Until recently you could cross over from Nevada to Arizona by driving over the dam.  Unfortunately, after the September 911 attacks the dam was closed to through traffic and a new Memorial Bridge was built crossing the Colorado.

This lovely memorial has also been placed by the dam.

We also took a short hike up to the Memorial Bridge so we could see the dam in its entirety from across the canyon.

Behind the dam this huge reservoir known as Lake Mead was created.  It's the largest reservoir in the United States and when it is full to capacity the lake 112 miles long.  It provides water to over 20 million people in Nevada, Arizona and California.

I will have more to share about our time in the desert and along the Colorado River but for now I will close.  Hopefully, I will be able to get back on line again soon.  So for now, a blessed day to each of you.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

San Luis Obispo

Sitting right in the middle between San Francisco and Los Angeles, San Luis Obispo is one of the oldest towns in California.  It was founded when Father Sierra built the Mission San Luis Obispo here in 1772.  Today it is a popular and charming little city that is home to The California Polytechnic State University or Cal Poly for short.

Over looking the town, the mission still stands.  I love visiting the old mission churches so we stopped in to take a look around.

The interior looks similar to the Mission San Luis Rey, another mission I shared with you here.

After we left the nave, we took a  stroll through the mission gardens behind the church.

 The Mission Bells.  The one on the left is called the Joy Bell, the one in the middle is the Gloria Bell and the one on the right is called the Sorrow Bell.

From the front of the church you can look down into the town.

 When we had finished touring the mission we wandered down to the San Luis Obispo Creek that runs through the center of town. Usually when we stop through here there is just a small stream of water meandering slowly through the town.  This day, with all the stormy weather it looked more like a river getting ready to overflow it banks.

In fact, it was coming over the walkway in one spot so we had to cross over the bridge to the other side.

 There are actually a number of cute little bridges and sidewalk restaurants along the creek which remind me a bit of the Riverwalk in San Antonio.

I spotted this rock wall on our way back to the car.  It looks like it might have been an old foundation or wall to something.  I wonder what it was?  I am guessing that the walls to the old mission might look like this under the whitewashed clay or stucco.  It's fun to imagine anyway.  Thanks for stopping by.