(C) 2002-2014 J. Watson All rights reserved
From the desert to the ocean – we again stayed at
the same RV park as prior trips. It’s always pleasant
to be next to the city park and marina. From our site
we see the bay and walk to the park to enjoy the
From Chula Vista we fanned out a couple of days to
see a couple of favorites – San Diego Zoo Safari
Park (nee Wild Animal Park) and Oceanside.
The Safari Park is always interesting with the exotic
animals. It was a pretty hot day so the elephants
were cooling off. We’re always intrigued by the
exotic plants – they range from vivid flowers to cacti
that look like contortionists designed them. The zoo
is noted for the extensive grounds that permit
animals to roam and live a more natural life than in
many zoos with small cages.
RV Travel notes from
the traveling gran'ma and gran'pa
Vol 22 No 2 June/July, 2012
On the road again...sightseeing. In the Mojave desert tour the museum honoring
WW2 General Patton, it's worth a stop -- learn of the training exercises to prepare
the troops. Continue through the Joshua Tree National Park to see the desert
landscape. Then go up along the Pacific coast. Drive from San Diego north to take
in the seascapes and visit the historic missions in Oceanside, Solvang and Lompoc.
Dear Gals… Your guys…
Our grandkids… and special folks…
CHULA VISTA, CA May 9, 2012
We made it—we’re overlooking the Pacific, well
Coronado Bay to be exact, just south of San Diego
and a bit over six miles from Mexico.
Family event: Things have settled down a bit…the
graduation at Point Loma Nazarene University was
impressive…as it should be. We were most
impressed with the beauty of the campus and the
solid Christian atmosphere that prevails. Can you
imagine a campus on a bluff that overlooks the
Pacific? And the appeal of this location to
surfboarders? It’s a small school, which has a
number of advantages including strong individual
attention as there is a low faculty-student ratio. Our
grandson can look back at the school year that
included a semester in Germany – a great experience
for a history major.
Now, continuing the story of our trip west. After we
left the Montezuma Castle National Monument we
headed to Fort Verde State (Arizona) Historic Site.
Around 1870 the local residents requested troops
be assigned to the area to protect them from Indian
Dense areas of Teddy-bear chollas, right, grow
along just a small stretch of the road. This is a
highlight because they are so different from the
other types of cacti that are scattered among the
sparse growth of the desert. The elevation of the
road goes from well over 4,000 feet to about 1,700
feet, so it’s a bit of a change in landscape.
Leaving the park we went south along the Salton
Sea, which is below sea level. The winds had been
unusually strong so we decided to take I-8, which
probably had less wind than I-10 to get over the
raids. Twenty years later, after a number of battles,
it was abandoned and most of the fort was
scavenged by local residents. They say it was
closed because of budget cuts, but I guess they
also figured the Indians weren’t going to be much of
a problem. Only four buildings survive, along with
the parade ground. Enough remains to give an
indication of the way they lived in the isolation of the
fort. For instance, even though there was a small
detachment there was a surgeon and operating
table plus a cow to provide milk for nourishment of
There were record-breaking temperatures – around
100 in this area of Arizona, so it was time to head to
California. We try to carefully research the
temperatures in advance of our trips; however you
can’t anticipate record breaking extremes.
Next stop: The General Patton Memorial Museum, in
the Mojave Desert of California. We’d been here
before and felt it deserved an encore. Over a million
WW2 soldiers were trained in desert warfare here
from 1942-44. It was tough training but probably the
best place to stage simulated battles under realistic
harsh conditions. They prepared for combat in
Africa, Europe and the Pacific. Patton was a tough
commander and was respected by the troops as
they knew he looked out for his men. The exhibits
range from descriptions of battles and honoring all
Medal of Honor recipients from all wars to displays of
heavy equipment and an outdoor chapel. As I saw
the chapel I was reminded of the incongruous
appearance of religious services being held under
the 12 inch guns of the USS Arkansas. The outdoor
array of tanks and other equipment reminded me of
the WW1 cannons placed in parks or village greens
throughout the US.
There were several training camps that extended
from the Mexican border to the outskirts of Las
Vegas and from Phoenix to west of the museum. It
Joshua Tree National Park is practically next door to
the museum so of course it deserved a revisit. We
traveled north thru the park to Twenty-nine Palms
for the night.
The RV park at Twenty nine Palms is a jewel in the
sand -- with a large indoor pool, golf course, and
other amenities plus outstanding scenery.
We spent the next day by casually
driving back south along a slightly
different route to stop and enjoy the
varied scenery. Varied, that’s an
understatement. Joshua trees grow
only in a section that is above 4,000
feet. Just so you know, the strangely
shaped Joshua trees are not trees –
they’re a form of yucca. There are
immense piles of boulders that have
been sandblasted by nature to be
rounded, almost like the rocks that
have been tumbled over the
centuries in mountain streams. As we
drove along we saw Joshua trees
and as we got lower there was an
abrupt shift to other plants.
Just down the road is Lompoc, the site of another
mission – La Purisima Mission. This is not used as a
church, but is unique because it has been more
extensively restored than any of the other California
missions. It is the only mission with livestock. The
plaza is trampled and has no garden. There are
straw huts for the Indians. It may not be as pretty as
other missions – but it is probably more authentic.
The nearby San Luis Rey de Francia Mission in
Oceanside is a beauty. The symmetry of the arches
and the superb plantings give a tranquil feel. Of
course when the mission was active in the early
1800s the appearance was quite different as there
were work areas where most gardens are now
placed. And, young children probably played in the
area plus there may have been and small animals
The California climate is conducive to these splendid
gardens that stand out against the stark white of the
mission building. This mission is now used as a local
parish church as well as conducting missions.
BUELLTON, CA June 3, 2012
Got on the road a bit over two weeks ago and
headed to HB to visit for a while and we’re now
headed up the coast.
Then further north…In Huntington Beach we parked
the motorhome across the highway from the beach.
And, what a beach…what surf!
This is a convenient base for family visits plus walks
along the beach. Off-shore oil rigs can be seen and
on shore we saw the “horse’s heads” slowly bobbing
up and down. Owners of properties in the area
relinquish their rights to the oil below. Up the road is
Bolta Chica Ecological Reserve where we saw more
birds than at the World Birding Center.
The Pacific Coast varies and we enjoy stopping at
waypoints along it.
One day we went down to Laguna Beach – what a
place. Rock bound coast with palms, etc.
From Huntington Beach we headed north to Solvang,
which is famous for the Danish influence. This part
of the central coast was settled by Danes a century
ago, who were escaping from the cold of the mid-
west where they first settled. I consider it a bit ersatz
to bring in tourist dollars, but it is fun – and the
Danish pastries are delicious.
Just north of the town’s center is Mission Santa Ines
– it’s a beauty—another work of art with splendid
gardens and fine architectural features. Exhibits
describe the history of the mission with displays of
the fine vestments and other artifacts that suggest
the life of the padres and other people who lived and
worked at the mission in the early 1800s.
While visiting the Solvang area we stayed at
a RV park in Buellton, just 4 miles from
Solvang. This is a nice village noted for a
restaurant that features split pea soup! The
residential areas are pleasant and we
enjoyed the views – very “California”. A
favorite view was of mountains that
surrounded the community with a golf course
in the valley.
Y’all have a great summer, ya hear!