Sunday, February 28, 2016

California - 5th and final stop

Lake Elsinore

When you can't go around 
you go over! That is a row of 
pipes going over the hill.
Lake Elsinore was our destination on January 25, 2016. We left the flat farmlands and orchards behind as we crossed the Tejon Pass which has an elevation of 4,144 feet. It was quite the climb in the RV.

You know you are making a steep climb when there are water stations along the way in case your car overheats, and signs telling you not to use your AC! Pyramid Lake is a beautiful surprise as you start downhill.

When you reach the town of Castaic at the bottom of the pass the northbound lanes of traffic are on the opposite side than normal - they are to your right and above you, instead of your left. It seemed very strange.

We stayed at the Lake Elsinore Marina & RV Resort. It is a beautiful place, right on the lake and surrounded by mountains. The sites are about average size. Nice trees for shade but not in the way of the RV. Bathrooms and laundry were very clean. We forgot to get a picture of the site but we got plenty of the campground.

There is a boat launch and two large beach areas. Even larger now with the lower water level. The blue dot is where Nancy was standing when she took the picture of the beach, even though it seems she was standing in the water, she wasn't even at the waters edge.

Highway 74 takes you to the coast and what a ride it is. Some of the curves had Nancy a little nervous, but the views were beautiful. You start gaining elevation almost immediately with Lake Elsinore spreading out below you.

We were headed to San Juan Capistrano, which is where Nancy's cousin May lives. They hadn't seen each other in almost 30 years. May gave us a tour of Dana Point, the part of town she lives in and treated us to lunch at her yacht club. We drove along the harbor, and through town. It was so great seeing her and catching up.
San Clemente from the end of the pier
While in San Juan Capistrano we headed south to San Clemente, they have a beautiful beach and pier.

We walked to the end of the pier and watched the surfers and enjoyed the views.
It doesn't seem the wires on the roof
are doing much good!

Of course there were seagulls everywhere. They did stop and pose for us a few times, except when they were busy eating the fish scrapes at the cleaning sinks.

There was a guy on the beach making large bubbles, another one of Nancy's favorite things.

We celebrated Presidents Day a little early, with a visit to the Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan Libraries and Museums.

President Nixon's, in Yorba Linda, was first. The museum opened in 1990.

As we approached the door, we were greeted by a group of union workers protesting against the contractor doing the renovations on the building. They were very polite and stopped their march and opened a space for us to walk through. The property is federally owned so they should be using union contractors, but they transferred the property to a private company while the construction is being done, which allows them to circumvent the law. Pretty crappy maneuver.

Due to the construction not much was open, we watched the documentary video and explored a replica of the East Room, the chandeliers were Nancy's favorite thing.

The gardens were not in full bloom this time of the year but still pretty with the reflecting pool. There is a memorial site for both President and Mrs. Nixon.

Also in the garden is a Marine One helicopter that was used by Nixon as well as Presidents Kennedy, Johnson and Ford

The library/museum is built around his childhood home which is sitting in the exact spot where his father built it in 1910.

Next up was President Reagan's library and museum which is in Simi Valley, it opened in 1991.

You wander through 18 different rooms and exhibits detailing his history through pictures, memorabilia and videos.
The Berlin Wall
There is also the 3-story Air Force One Pavilion.

It holds the Air Force One Jet that Reagan used along with 6 other presidents, the Marine One helicopter, his motorcade vehicle, and the Ronald Reagan Pub. You can walk through the plane and helicopter.

The grounds are beautiful and the driveway that leads to the building has flags on each light-post with a picture of a previous president.

As we drove on the highways in the LA area we found it interesting that all of the sign poles are wrapped in barbwire, assuming it is to cut down on graffiti. All of the edges of the ones attached to overpasses were covered.

In between the two libraries we made a stop at the iconic Hollywood sign and got a great view of LA.

Joshua Tree National Park is another one we would recommend you visiting. We entered from the West entrance and drove Park Boulevard to the center of the park. This section is the Mojave Desert with elevations over 3,000 feet. You drive through a jumble of stacked boulders, where your imagination can run wild. We kept seeing faces, people, animals. We saw one that looked like a skull, a giant armadillo, and even a bare-butt.
The rock piles were formed from volcanic activity, a molten form of rock called monzogranite. As the molten rock cooled and continued to uplift the cracks and joints were formed.

The Joshua trees are wild looking, rather Dr. Seuss like. They really are not trees at all but a species of yucca. They can grow to be over 40 feet tall, but at the snails pace of one inch a year.

We stopped at Key's View, an overlook at 5,185 feet, luckly you drive to the top and don't have to walk. You can see into the valley of Pinto Basin, the surrounding mountains and Salt Lake. As we were leaving the overlook we ran into a couple who was camped next to us in LaGrande, OR.

The Cottonwood/South entrance was our destination, so we took Pinto Basin Road south and the scenery was dramatically different. This section is the Colorado Desert, and is part of the Sonoran Desert which spans southern Arizona and northwestern Mexico. No trees, but lots of sage brush and cactus and very flat.

Here you can see the difference in the landscape and also Wilson Canyon in the background. You know Nancy had to take a picture of that!

We stopped at the Cholla Cactus Garden. There is a walk way through a field of 100's of Cholla cactus, some taller than Les. They are also called Jumping Teddy Bears, but you wouldn't want to cuddle with them.

Can you see Les peeking from behind the cactus? 

Mt San Jacinto

We did a drive by of Palm Springs, lots of stores and restaurants.

Our schedule didn't allow time for stopping any where but the visitor center. We did see a crazy water fountain and some beautiful mountain ranges.

San Gorgonio Mtn with a huge
wind farm in front of it
On our way into San Diego we stopped in Escondido to get a picture of an art sculpture garden, only to find out it was closed!
We did find a large cement snake and Nancy got to pick an orange from a tree, a first for her. Escondido is another town with painted electrical boxes.

We entered San Diego from the south through Imperial Beach.The sidewalks are lined with metal sculptured surfboards.
We drove through the Coronado Hotel property, but there was a wedding being set up and emergency vehicles all over the place so we didn't stop.

Harbor Island is a great place to get pictures of the San Diego skyline.

There are some very interesting buildings and murals in San Diego.

We picked the wrong day to drive through Torrey Pines as the Farmer's Insurance Golf Tournament was just ending. It took almost an hour to get out of town and then when we finally made it the expressway we were stopped for another hour due to an accident.
Lots of taillights 

One of the best stops we made was at Stone Brewery in Escondido. This is the place that our son-in-law Steve proposed to our daughter Katrina.

The day we were there was cold and rainy, but we had a blast anyways. Good beer, of course, and met some interesting people. The garden area was closed because of the rain but that didn't stop Nancy from crossing the barricade to get pictures.

Out here in one of these chairs a life time of forever afters started.

Arizona is up next - see ya there.

Till we meet again...

Happy Trails to You.

Tips and things we have learned along the way
~ Laundry tip. We have a washer/dryer combo in our RV but we aren't always able to use it. If we are camped at a place that doesn't have a sewer hook up, or if the water pressure is really bad, or if we have experienced a lot of rain and don't want to add any more moisture to the RV are a few of the reason we don't use it. 
When that happens we use a laundromat, either one on site or in the local town. The best way to haul laundry to and from the laundromat is a regular plastic laundry basket, but storing those just isn't practical with limited space. Our solution is collapsible baskets, they come in a variety of sizes and shapes. We have two and we store them in the mesh laundry bag that we use in our hamper. It is easy to separate loads and they will also hold the detergent bottles for easy transport. 

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