Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Bakersfield, California

Winnebago "Tour" For Bakersfield, CA

We are leaving Iowa in the last week of March, cold & windy, but no rain or snow. This 39' 10" Winnebago "Tour" will be delivered to Bakersfield, CA. The list price is $275,000 for all of these bells & whistles: a 350 HP Diesel pusher, 100 gal fuel tank, GPS navigational system, constant read-out on the dash showing driver how much gas is being used (8.1mpg average) & other motor info, one complete side of the unit was a slide out plus half of the opposite side, 2 sofa beds plus a king size bed, a round dinette table with leather booth-like seating, the bathroom sink was a large white ceramic bowl sitting on top of the cupboard, 4 flat screen TV sets, an exterior entertainment center, and maple cabinetry.

The highest prices we saw posted for diesel was $4.25 and for regular was $3.50 in California and Utah.

Flint Hills

This area showed areas of black ash where the prairie had been burned to help new growth of the grass, bluestem. Herds of cattle included baby calves. The water ponds were full. Did you know that one million cattle graze in this area each year. 300,000 are transported here from southern United States.

Greensburg, Kansas

This town was literally "blown away" by a tornado in May 2007. Highway 54 goes through the city. It is slowly rebuilding, but there are huge areas of open space where debris from homes and business have been removed. There is a place for volunteers to register for assignments. A medical center complex of canvas buildings has been set up. The awesome power of a tornado is still very evident. We pray for continued strength, healing, and wisdom as the people rebuild.

Easter Sunday

He Is Risen, Indeed!

On the road through New Mexico and into Arizona listening to audio book, "Home to Holly Springs" by Jan Karon. A story of forgiveness!

The desert was accented with green leaves on the yucca plants, the creosote bush, the salt cedar and white pineapple shaped blossoms on the Joshua trees. Even the tall chola cactus canes had some green leaves. Sprinkles of yellow/gold from the blossoms of desert marigold, bigelow coreopsis, and desert marigold. Occasional blue flowers on the Mojave indigo bush. The water of winter brings New Life!

Bakersfield, California

We had a view of the El Paso Mountains in the distance as we drove west on California Highway 58 towards Bakersfield. Miles of windmills are silhouetted against the sky across the peaks of the mountains. Acres of solar panels are reflecting the sun on the desert floor.

It seems as though we are suddenly relocated into the Swiss Alps as we drive through grass- covered, round-top, low mountains. Some areas are covered with orange flowers. Herds of cattle graze. There are bee hives stacked at the edge of the pastures. A railroad track along side the highway goes through a series of tunnels dug in the mountains. Fields of citrus groves, dates, and vegetables are visible as we look down into the valley. Green grass, roses blooming in the back yards, irrigation everywhere, and oil wells among the grape vines.

A last, for the dealer, stop at a gas station and a quick wash and inspection and the "Tour" is at the dealer and ready for an owner! We spend some time walking outside soaking up the warm sunshine!

Red Rock Canyon State Park

Layers of white, pink, red and brown cliffs line both east and west sides of Highway 14 as you drive north from the town of Mojave, CA. At one area the colors were layered like frosting dripping down the sides of a layer cake! This canyon is situated at the western edge of the El Paso Mountain range. It was on the Native American trade route for hundreds of years. The survivors of the famous Death Valley trek, members of the Arcane and Bennett families along with some of the Illinois Jayhawkers, used it in the 1850. (The Death Valley Trek was a group of people that took a short cut to the California gold fields. Check the library for books about them or Google it!) In l860 some prospecting was done, but in l893 hundreds of gold miners were sifting the sands of the canyon. Large flocks of sheep were driven up the canyon to the north. It has been a stagecoach stop, railroad route and truck stop.

Recently it has been used as location for many movies, including Jurassic Park, as well as videos and commercials. It is used as an outdoor classroom by students studying geology, paleontology,, and photography.

We stopped at the visitor center, but it was closed except for week-ends during the winter. There are many campgrounds in the area. We walked the short nature trail at the visitor center. Different species of plants are identified. Again it was great soaking up the sun!!

California City

We drove through California City, the largest city in California, on our way back to the Interstate. You say, "WHAT"!
We had passed signs on the Interstate noting California City city limits but there was nothing but desert. In a conversation with a local at a gas station we were told that California City has the largest number of square miles in California. He stated that construction had slowed drastically over the last year.
It is a developers dream! Their are signs all around it advertising land for sale, some are platted, some have a few homes built. The price on one of the signs was nine cents a square foot! The town itself has a population of over 11,000. As we drove through the city we saw a variety of retail & commercial businesses, churches, some manufacturing and a large residential area.
Driving from the north there were areas of drifting sand and high wind warnings. We were told that with 50-70 mph wind the sand could blast the paint off a car!
WAIT!! The California City web site states that it is the 3rd largest city in California and the 11th largest in the nation with 130,200 acres. It is near the NASA Dryden Research Center, Edwards Air Force Base, and centrally located for access to ocean, mountains, desert and cultural centers.
We also saw a sign for a Honda R&D area. Koehn Lake was in the distance. On the atlas it is listed as a "dry lake", but with the snow melt it had water in it. Land is for sale on Ebay!

Barstow, California

Barstow is situated in the middle of the Mojave Desert and at an intersection of two interstates.
We stopped at the Mojave River Valley Museum, advertised as having displays and exhibits that portray the history of the valley from 1776 to present.
It is small, but does have a variety of information. A sign gave the following information about the people who had been in the area:
1776 -- Pardre Garces of Arizona described the area.
1826 -- Jedelah Smith from Salt Lake City, Hunter & Trapper
1829 -- Wm Wolfshill of New Mexico, First Annual Carvan Traders bound for California
1844 -- Capt. John C. Fremont, Pathfinder & Mapmaker
1848 -- Mormons Battalian disbanded in Los Angeles and bound for Utah
1849 -- Gold Seekers, First wagons of
After until present -- Mormons, Immigrants, Fortune Seekers, Freighters, Military Expeditions & Tourists!

Large displays of fossils dug out of the dry lake beds in the area including a mammoth. Samples of the minerals mined in the area,a radio transmitter using large glass tubes from a local station, cameras used by a local photographer including an antique panoramic camera, a pay clock radio, items used by the early gold, silver and borax miners, and an area for "hands on" for younger visitors.

In the 1880's the Mojave Runners lived in villages along the Cedar River. They would run regularly over the San Bernadino Mountains to trade with the coastal Indians. They could run 100 miles a day and new the location of every spring on the route.

In the 1970's the people of the area set up for the tourists. At Possom Trot a couple made dolls from pieces of redwood guard rails, dressed them, and recorded voices making up stories with the dolls for showing in their homemade theater. The dolls were sold at the roadside. One sign for a tourist "attraction" stated, " We don't know where MA is but we got POP on ice. 7-up, too!"

The Deep Space Network, designed to communicate with space craft exploring the solar system, is located at Goldstone. It is one of 3 complexes set up strategically in order to maintain contact during the entire orbit. Others are near Madrid, Spain and Canberra, Australia.

Mojave Desert

It takes a special mindset to see beauty in the desert, but this was a good time to really look for it. Because of the snow melt growth was abundant. The Creosote Bush makes up 80% of the desert plants. The Indians made a tea from it which was described as unpalatable and medicine- like. Blossoms of the Yucca plant were cooked and eaten. The seeds were eaten raw or boiled or ground into flour and tea was made from the leaves. The young flower buds on the Joshua tree were roasted and eaten.

We passed a semi with a flat bed stacked with bee hives. They were covered with a netting and we could see the bees buzzing outside of the hives. Later when we were driving through Los Vegas we could see a few escaping from the netting at the seam at the top. Did they find their way back to the truck???

The Mojave is being developed for its natural resources of minerals, fertilizers, natural gas, and limestone.

The Virgin River Canyon in north west Arizona is Spectacular!

Zion National Park

Driving through the town of Springdale was a treat. Beautiful flowers and trees blooming all over, lots of B&B's, homes with "character", had the feel of "get out and walk"! We are thankful for the gift of a National Park Pass from one of our children. Also thankful that we got to the park early in the day. Shuttle buses take you into the canyon. They are free, stop at each of the trail heads at 5 minute intervals, and provide a tour guide with information on the canyon. The Canyon rises on either side of the Virgin River, which starts out as a spring and flows into the Colorado River & Lake Meade.
We stopped and walked on a short trail to one of the "hanging gardens". Water seeping out of the limestone cliffs offer a place for plants to grow--ferns, columbine, ivy, etc. They appear to be hanging on the cliffs. The trail took us behind a waterfall!
We walked a trail along the bank of the Virgin River, but did not take into consideration the time needed to really "see" this park, so did not go all the way to the end to see where the River started.
The Canyon is Awesome, as is the drive on Highway 9 to the East entrance. Switchback curves, rugged, tall rock formations and a tunnel that was built in the 1920's!
The Museum and Giant Screen Movie was closed when we arrived and because we had made a motel reservation that could not be cancelled 400 miles further down the road, we did not take the time to explore them.
We did drive one of the scenic byways, Highway 14 from #89 to Cedar City through the snow covered mountains. The snow was still over 3 feet deep in the pine and fir forests and along the edge of the road. In the summer there are many resorts and hiking areas open.

Colorado Rockies

Driving through the mountains provide ever changing views. Colors from brown to red to white. Tree covered, snow covered, bare rocks, deep valleys, all sizes and shapes. Valleys that are farmed, grazed, desert, or having mining & processing plants or power plants. Cities and towns are long and narrow, built in the valley. Some have homes built on top of the mountain and look as if they would slide off when the wind blows! Weather for us was okay until the Vail area. Our sightseeing was concentrated on road signs and pavement markings when we drove into snow flakes, pellets, and fog all the way into Denver.


As we drove on Interstate 80 beside the Platte River we saw flocks of Sandhill cranes flying and feeding in the fields. The following information is from the Rowe Sanctuary website. This is located along the Platte River in Nebraska.

Sandhill Cranes and the Platte River

Sandhill cranes have been found as far north as Alaska and Eastern Siberia. In order to reach these destinations, cranes must build up enough energy to complete their long journey and to begin breeding. For the cranes, the Platte River Valley is the most important stopover on this migration. The river provides the perfect spot to rest, and the nearby farmlands and wet meadows offer an abundance of food. Without the energy gained at the Platte, cranes might arrive at their breeding grounds in a weakened condition -- where food may be limited until the spring growing season begins.

The Platte River region has a variety of habitats that support cranes. The most important is the Platte River itself. The river is very shallow and sandbars dot the channels. It is here the cranes rest at night, gaining protection from predators like coyotes.

In the morning, cranes shuffle up and down the river waiting for the sun to pop up over the horizon. As the sun rises, cranes head out to feed and loaf in the surrounding fields. During the day, cranes "dance" to relieve the stress of migration and strengthen pair bonds. Cranes are very "social" birds and in the evening, congregate in wet meadows before heading back to the river for the night.

Cranes are omnivorous, eating both plant and animal materials. With the abundance of cropland in the Platte River valley, corn makes up nearly 90 percent of their diet, providing carbohydrates for fat production. Wet meadows along the river provide invertebrates that make up the remainder of their diet. Worms and snails provide protein, with the snail shell being a source of calcium that is essential for egg development.


An overnight stop at Des Moines to attend granddaughters high school drama production. Home to the Prairie in anticipation of a Family Week-end and Spring activities.

Thank-you for taking the time to share our "adventure" via the net!

Prairie Schooners

1 comment:

Dagmar said...

Sounds like a good trip. Zion National park sounds beautiful! And the lovely mountains!