Our main reason for going to California was to see my brother Harry. Harry lives in Tustin just outside of Los Angeles. Because we didn’t want to drive the motor home on the Freeways we decided to stay in Grand Terrace about 40 miles from Tustin. So on Friday the 12th we made our trip into Tustin, to get to Tustin you have to drive one of the smaller “freeways”, five and sometimes six lanes of traffic in each direction, everyone driving at least 75 miles per hour and switching lanes like they are practicing for a demolition derby. It was quite an adventure; fortunately we choose to make this trip in the middle of the day so we didn’t have to contend with the rush hour traffic too. We had a nice but way too short visit with Harry. The weather in southern California is very nice and all the flowers and trees were in bloom so it was really pretty but the crazy traffic would be enough to discourage me from ever wanting to live there.
We left Grand Terrace on Sunday heading East to our next stop on the California/Arizona border, Blythe, CA. Our trip was not as uneventful as we like. We were about 70 miles into the 170-mile trip when we felt and heard what seemed like a bomb going off in the back of the motor home. We blew a tire. Fortunately we were only about ½ mile from an exit and a Travel America Truck Stop in Coachella and were able to drive that far. So I’m thinking, heck this isn’t so bad, there is a truck garage right here. Wrong, the garage could fix tires on tractor-trailers but didn’t have the equipment to mount and balance a motor home tire. We have Good Sam’s Roadside Assistance so we called them, they will help you locate service when you need it. Because it was Sunday and we were out in the middle of nowhere it took a while for them to locate the right size tire and someone who could change it. To make a long story short, three hours later we were back on the road, we did have breakfast at the truck stop restaurant while we waited so it wasn’t a total loss. As bad as having a blew-out is at least it happened in a fairly good location because the balance of our trip through eastern California was through about 90 miles of desert without any kind of services available, we were very, very lucky.
We spent the next three days at the Blythe/Colorado River KOA. The Colorado River runs between California and Arizona at this location. We had a great site overlooking the river. It was very pretty in Blythe, like an oasis in the middle of the desert but it was very HOT the whole time we were there. There isn’t much to do in Blythe so one afternoon we drove about 20 miles into Arizona to Quartzsite, where there is even less to do than in Blythe. In the winter Quartzsite is probably a popular place for “snow birds” but in August it was pretty deserted. We did find a very unique store there, the sign said “Collectibles, Rocks, Book and Beads” but it was so much more, the oddest assortment of merchandise you can imagine, some of the stuff had probably been there for years.
Our next stop was Casa Grande, Arizona. Casa Grande is located about half way between Phoenix and Tucson. We are staying at Campground Buena Tierra, which in the winter is a very popular RV resort, not so much in the summer. There are well over 200 campsites here but right now there are only about six other camping units here and only one of those appears to be occupied. The manager, Katherine told us that they are completely booked for the winter months when the climate is perfect. There is lots of wildlife here including Rattlesnakes; we haven’t seen any. We have seen dozens of quail, a few jackrabbits with really big ears, a lizard and some very small prairie dogs. Here in the desert we have been managing to keep the motor home cooler by keeping all the shade closed and covering the larger windows with those foil shades that are used for car windshields, it really seems to help a lot and our air conditioner doesn’t have to work quite so hard. On our second evening here we witnessed what seemed like a miracle; it rained, for about a half an hour, it was wonderful, the temperature went from 112 to 82. There were high winds and thunder and lightening, and in some areas nearer Phoenix there was some wind damage to homes but to us it just seemed like a little relief. Here’s a fun fact about Arizona that came as a surprise to me, the #1 cash crop in Arizona is Cotton. There are a lot of irrigated Cotton fields right here in Casa Grande.
The downtown area of Casa Grande is small but perfect for all the winter visitors. There are a couple of antique stores, a used bookstore, a quilt shop and a stained glass store. The owner of one of the antique stores that is open only a few hours a day in the summer told us that in the winter over 20,000 “snow birds” come to the area.
Yesterday we drove to Mesa, about 40 miles from here, just outside of Phoenix. We went to a Camping World there and spent a couple of hours enjoying the air conditioning of the Fiesta Mall. Today we will do a little housekeeping, get some groceries and tomorrow we are “on the road again”.