Sunday, December 12, 2010

Thanksgiving and south

In November I attended a conference of NAI, the National Association of Interpretation, in Vegas in November. The setting seemed incongruous for a group of interpretive guides, rangers, docents and related folks most of whom work in the outdoor, natural world or in historic sites. But, despite the setting, great conference, fun people, and I learned some new pointers and skills which should help me in my tours.

Vegas is close to Tecopa Hot Springs where I met some friends for Thanksgiving, trips to the baths, trips to the date farm, lunch at the off-the-beaten-track C'est Si Bon coffee house, and quiet desert landscapes. Just before Vegas I met a friend at Red Rock Canyon, one of the natural wonders and secrets tucked just a few miles from the neon and glitz. He wanted some photos of him with his home and toys. So, here is a photo of Piper Bob, in kilt with his bagpipes, his tiny home on wheels, his even tinier tow car, kayak, bicycle, with the great scenery as a backdrop. Met Bob and his brothers on the Grand Canyon float trip a few years ago and our paths cross from time to time.

I have a favorite route south from Tecopa to Arizona, with a few variations from time to time. This year I drove south, through Baker, and then onto the meandering, quiet two lane and not well paved, though paved it is, road which travels through a good portion of the Mojave Desert Reserve, part of the National Park System. The old train depot in Amboy has been restored and is a great visitor center on the natural and human history of the region. Trains, mining, survival, desert geology, and even a small coffee shop sitting at the U-shaped counter of the original train station.

I spent a night parked next to Roy's Motel, now closed, in historic Amboy, CA. This town was an important stop on the old Route 66. Now the only things open are the post office, and the tiny cafe\gas station and restrooms. And the cafe only has some cold sodas in the refrigerator, a pot of coffee, and some packaged cookies. But the town's owner hopes someday to restore the motel and cafe to its 1950's era,

From Amboy I meandered secondary roads to Joshua Tree National Monument. I practically had the campground to myself, especially the first night. That is probably because other people checked the weather forecast and knew the temps were going to drop into the mid-20s. Still, it is a great place. Here I am parked in Jumbo Rock Campground

Ended up on Ogilby Road, a free BLM camping area which is handy to Algodones, Mexico where I did my annual dental check up. Its great when the dentist smiles and says, "everything looks great." Visited friends in Yuma, and by chance as 4 of us were having lunch, I recognized people at another table I hadn't seen for several years. That led to a visit with them and an overnight on the cul de sac in front of the house they have built.

Today I am in Gila Bend, AZ. Why Gila Bend? If you have been here, you understand the question. This isn't exactly a destination site. But, for that very reason it is perfect for my purposes. There are no distractions and a good wi-fi connection. I will finish my holiday newsletter and get it sent before I head to a favorite desert spot near Ajo, AZ where Verizon doesn't reach and I cannot easily do internet related activities.

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