(C)  2002-2014 J. Watson       All rights reserved  
Travel Letters
 RV Travel notes from
       the traveling gran'ma and gran'pa
Vol 17  No 2                                                                                                                                                  __           May  , 2007___________
Dear Gals…   Your guys …
Our grandchildren…     and sisters


When the wind subsided we headed south from
Yermo to Joshua Tree National Park.  Each national
park is different with signature features that
distinguish it from all others.  Joshua trees are a
form of Yucca and stand 25-30 feet tall. They’re
found only in this part of the Mojave Desert, above
3,500 feet.  Below that altitude there are Cholla
cactus (lower photo), that is found only in this area.  
The branches of the plant resemble bottle brushes
and have treacherous barbs.  Our grandsons have
often camped at the park with the Scouts and
enjoyed rock climbing.  We hiked along a rocky
ridge among the Joshua trees to a reservoir – yes,
there is a lake bed, now mostly muddy, that was
dammed up years ago by ranchers for their cattle.
From Joshua Tree National Park the next
destination was Chula Vista, just south of San
Diego.  On the way, there is a ten mile stretch along
I-10 of seemingly endless wind farms with hundreds,
probably thousands of wind mills.  It’s like a forest.  
These are placed on the mountains facing the
Pacific Ocean and the strong winds seem to be
continuous.   The motorhome rocked as we traveled
through the pass.

West of the mountains the route was on a desert
road that was interspersed with a variety of activities
ranging from chemical settling ponds to farm land;
mostly sod farms and cattle in large feed lots.  

The San Diego area weather is always perfect –
clear and a bit of snap to the temperature.  It’s
desert and has about 10 inches of rain a year.  Of
course the priorities are to tour the area making
sure to revisit Balboa Park plus the nearby Wild
Animal Park.  Both have marvelous plantings.  

BALBOA PARK                          WILD ANIMAL PARK

The Wild Animal Park has been redone with a
motorized tour in open cars that give visitors a
closer view than the former monorail.  The park
houses the animals that overflowed the San Diego
Zoo and is used to breed endangered species.  The
park supplies young animals to zoos around the
world.  The intent is to have endangered species
dispersed in case some die off in one location there
will be survivors elsewhere so they aren't extinct.  

Balboa Park features the famous San Diego Zoo
plus a dozen or so museums ranging from model
railroads to science to art; even a veteran’s
museum.  Scattered about are fountains and
gardens, one of which is a traditional Japanese Tea
Garden.  The buildings are left from the
international fairs in the early 1900s that were to
stimulate the economic development of the area
and the central Americas.  
WILLETS, CA; 5/16/2007
As you know, the missions are a highlight.  They’re
noted for the graceful design of the buildings and
the plantings.  This combines to add to the historic
significance.  At Solvang we visited the Mission
Santa Inés.  The tranquility of the mission is
reflected in the gardens that border the symmetrical
arches of the building.  Simplicity is the key, as
shown below.

Just north of San Simeon, on CA-1, is an incredible
sight – elephant seals lolling on the beaches.  
Hundreds of them.  They are here about four
months each year, have their babies, and then take
off with the young.  The males are up to three tons
and the female is a svelte one ton.  (They’ll never
make the cover of Cosmo.)  They can dive down a
mile in search of food and return to the surface after
a couple of hours underwater.  After returning from
these deep dives they have no problem readjusting
to normal atmosphere.  Scientists are trying to learn
their secret hoping the knowledge might be applied
to prepare humans for deep dives and eliminate the
problem of bends.  
Continuing north past Big Sur is a torturous zigzag
road that hugs the coastline.  In some areas the
cliffs are so sheer that the engineers were forced to
build bridges along the edge for the road, like an
extended shelf.  There are scenic pull-offs
overlooking the fabulous seascapes.  

North of Monterey is Marina, a coastal community
we have enjoyed in the past.  It is a starting point for
our type of touring – enjoying scenery, points of
interest and pleasant walking places.  The beach is
behind a 1/3 mile of dunes that rise about fifty feet.  
We walked the beach and toured.  

Nearby the major crop is artichokes.  While taking a

San Juan Bautista is a short ride from Marina.  As
you may recall from earlier letters, the mission is at
the edge of the San Andreas Fault and was
severely damaged in the 1906 quake.   The rose
gardens were prime.   
picture of an artichoke
field one of the field
hands noticed and told
his co-workers to pose
for a picture.  They
promptly stood up and
waved .
CRESCENT CITY, CA; 5/20/2007
From Marina we headed inland to avoid the San
Francisco metro area, and for a change headed to
Sacramento and parts north.  Sutter‘s discovery of
gold in the Sacramento valley set off the ‘49ers gold
rush.  Now, north of the city there are miles of rice
paddies and no gold mines.  At that point we headed
back to the Pacific coast.  (The day we drove
through Sacramento there were two whales that had
gone the 70 miles up the Sacramento River and the
locals were trying to help them return to the ocean.)  

The route is diverse (maybe a better word is
incongruous) – desert area spotted with lakes.  
Vineyards line part of the route with signs directing
people to wine tastings.  Some stretches are barren
while others are irrigated.  

Driving north along the coast there are numerous
hills, part of a coastal mountain range.  The
dampness of the coast is captured by the mountains
creating an ideal environment for redwoods.  You’ve
seen the photos of these monstrous trees that top
300 feet and can be over a thousand years old.  
What is not usually considered is the fact that the
moisture of the persistent fog is trapped by the
canopy of the trees and creates a condition that is
much like a rain forest.  The growth is rampant with
many varieties of ferns and flowers.  

Continuing north along the coast there are several
places near the redwoods to view the elk.  They tend
to stay at the same general  
location year after year,

                                        as they graze.

It’s fun to explore the small fishing villages that line
the coast.  They’re interspersed by small farms.  In
Loleta we visited a cheese plant.  In Trinidad we had
lunch at a waterfront café at the town dock.  It’s a
rockbound coast.  

Next, in Crescent City, CA we are overlooking the
bay.  Before us is a sandy beach, to the right the
lighthouse beams out its warning 3 of every 30
seconds.  To the left are commercial fishing docks
and beyond them the mountains.  Coming into town
you are alerted to the escape route in the event of a
tsunami and warned that you can’t expect much
warning, maybe only 20 minutes.  This is serious
business.  The worst one in US history was here in
1964.  The wave was about 20 feet high.  Some
buildings have signs for the high water mark.   When
it is overcast, the fog horn sounds and occasionally
the harbor seals at the docks can be heard barking.  

Final exams are over, have a good
summer, y’all!!
which is handy for traffic
control as there are  
marked viewing spots off  
the road.  They seem to
ignore the cars and
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