Sky: blue. Temperature: 23C.
As these rather pleasant weather observations at the Salton Sea convey, CrossCountry Bob and Paintin’ Peggie are at a latitude where the snow don’t show. But as the Salton Sea isn’t as well known as Palm Springs, CrossCountry Bob thought it might be useful to provide a few clues as to where this Sea actually is and that way everyone will be, if not on the same page, at least in the same country…
Two clues should be sufficient for most to determine the country but if not, here is Clue 3.
When CrossCountry Bob last posted, Winnie was still on the ocean shore near Bodega Bay. Here is Paintin’ Peggie hard at work, capturing a bit of that ocean mystery.
But it was time to move on to the next phase of the trek and Winnie, always up to a challenge, slipped south on the Interstates, skirting San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose and then a straight shot south on the I5.
Very cleverly (thought CrossCountry Bob), he had picked a Sunday for this traverse and the traffic was Sunday morning light. A beautiful day except for the pollution gift of the Bay Area – a nice, thick carpet of brown from north of San Francisco all the way down past San Jose and on to Bakersfield. And to keep that brown company there was the flat nothing of the Central Valley (but productive for agriculture – wow!). After some hours hauling south, Winnie passed by Bakersfield and turned east up into the hills. Dusk was creeping in but the skies blued up and the scenery turned fun. Paintin’ Peggie had her camera up and working once again.
But by then CrossCountry Bob and Paintin’ Peggie had had enough driving for the day and so it was an overnighter in Tehachapi at the Flying J Truck Stop. Perfect for a quick park and sleep after a long day of driving.
Winnie, on the other hand, settled right in next to the trucks (CrossCountry Bob thinks maybe Winnie liked hanging with the big boys for a bit).
All those big trucks need some additional mention here. Was Winnie in the United States of Trucks? There are trucks packing every interstate and highway and every one of those trucks insisted on barreling past Winnie. Speed limit? For suckers, maybe, not truckers. While CrossCountry Bob had to focus on keeping Winnie steady as those trucks blew by he was smiling about one thing though. CrossCountry Bob bought oil stocks 18 months back when you couldn’t give away Alberta oil companies and now, looking around California at the flocks of trucks, CrossCountry Bob thinks that even if oil is playing the back nine it is still a long way from done (you could apply that bit of description to CrossCountry Bob as well he thinks).
One place CrossCountry Bob and Paintin’ Peggie had on their “To Do in USA while BC freezes” list was Joshua Tree National Park. This Park turned out to be a winner even if it the Joshua Tree is not a tree at all but a member of the yucca family (Yucca brevifolia to be exact) . And the name? The story goes that the name was given by a group of Mormon settlers who crossed the Mojave Desert in the mid-19th century. The tree’s unique shape reminded them of a Biblical story in which Joshua reaches his hands up to the sky in prayer.
Believe that story or not (CrossCountry Bob buys it as it sounds like the Mormons), the Joshua tree is an impressive piece of this desert land. Just as impressive, but different, is the rocks – yes, rocks. Check out those shapes…
Those rocks were thrust up into these lands millions of years ago and have been eroded since into unique shapes. Part of our ever changing planet which moves in cycles much, much longer than a human lifespan (something CrossCountry Bob always tries to keep in mind when he hears talk of preserving something “forever”).
Since one objective of this trip was finding warm, CrossCountry Bob needs to mention it was cold up there at night on the Joshua Tree Park plateau. Winnie’s furnace was working just fine (for you camping purists, this is an RV trip, not a camping trip. CrossCountry Bob’s camping days are past and if they weren’t he would be camping alone as Paintin’ Peggie has made more than clear that sleeping on the ground in a tent is a non-starter).
So, clear, cold nights littered with stars and a bright moon – a magical combination. And, yes, clear nights mean cloudless days and CrossCountry Bob needs to mention that clear sky days have been on parade lately, one after the other with no end in sight. CrossCountry Bob and Paintin’ Peggie are doing no complaining about that.
Leaving Joshua Tree National Park, Winnie heads down, down, down and then there is the Salton Sea. Two hundred feet below sea level in a geological trough resulting from the nearby San Andreas fault. CrossCountry Bob never usually thinks much about earthquakes but right now at this very minute with his butt on the crack (in the earth), he thinks about it a bit while enjoying the view…
CrossCountry Bob could maybe give a geology lesson on how the Earth is always changing but nobody likes lessons from CrossCountry Bob (but he will say anyway that the Salton Sea in times past was a huge freshwater lake called Lake Cahuilla and way before even that the Pacific Ocean extended inland to where CrossCountry Bob is sitting right now writing this blog). The Salton Sea (a lake, actually) was itself created by accident when the Colorado River flooded in 1905, broke through the irrigation canals and drained into the Salton depression for a couple of years. It was great for a while, and Los Angles residents holidayed here in the fifties. Now, not so much (as in zero) with high salinity, algae blooms and receding waters…
Speaking of where CrossCountry Bob is sitting…the sun is shining, the wind is light, Paintin’ Peggie is painting away and the living is good. Homemade prawn cakes for dinner, washed down with California wine (CrossCountry Bob was careful to stock up at the Costco in Victorville). What is America if not Costco (and Walmart)?
Tomorrow is Arizona. So today, last pictures of California, mostly from the fine eye of Paintin’ Peggie.