Saturday, March 28, 2009
Well, we've moved along and find ourselves in a BLM (Bureau of Land Management) area about 10 miles west of Yuma off I-8...quite a change from Tecopa over 350miles to the north. Our trip took us south across the Mojave Preserve and through the historic railroad town of Amboy complete with its cinder cone crater and straddling US Rt 66, the Mother Road of America. We found a nice spot to spend the night along the road and enjoyed spring wildflowers the next morning on a walkabout of the area. Later we drove through town and spotted the "shoe tree" next but didn't find any explanations from some folks we met in Amboy. Probably somebody had an extra pair and decided to leave a legacy...and so did many others! One of those many surprises and curiousities we've found along the road these many years.
Later that day we passed through Blythe and took the back road south along CA 78 to Olgivy Road/CA 34. It was a narrow rolling road with no shoulders and a bicycle tour group heading north. Felt badly for them because the traffic was pretty heavy, with a lot of trucks and RVs. Sure they were looking forward to a quiet and scenic ride, but that certainly didn't appear to be the case Tuesday.
Here we've come to make our annual dental visit in Algodones, BC, Mexico a few miles to the east and south of here. We've been making our annual trek here since 1995 and have had the same dentist almost since then.Yuma is the winter lettuce and greens capital of the country with many growers and packers taking advantage of the milennia of flooding from the Colorado River. It's a large winter gathering destination point for Snowbirds and RVers from all over the US and Canada. It's also home of the Yuma Proving Grounds where the US Army has a large R&D facility and the MarineCorps has a very active airbase. For us it's been a great winter climate, lots of public (BLM) land and plenty to do, or not, and a close proximity to Mexico.
We're taking advantage of the same income disparity which draws so many Mexican nationals here for work. It's quite surprising and sobering to see the many greybeards and snowbirds treking across the border for the relatively "low cost" dentists, optometrists and prescription drug pharmacies. Dental costs are roughly a third or less for standard procedures in the US, and many of the dentists are trained in the US. Quite a national statement to realize so many visitors are retirees without insurance taking advantage of this disparity to buy name brand & generic prescription drugs as well as getting new dentures, implants and all types of dental care. We try to point this ironic disparity to fellow bordercrossers while waiting in line often for over 1 1/2 hours to walk back through the border. Few seem to appreciate this irony. Fewer still have an appreciation of the efforts taken by many Mexicans to make the difficult journey to cross the border without documents looking for a job. Lately we have begun seeing Mixtec Indian women selling chiclets trinkets and when possible begging on the street. They are always surprised when we talk with them and tell them we know of their village. They are always pleasantly surprised and even proud of their homeland in Oaxaca over 2500 miles to the south. They remain very secretive of their circumstances as they are trying to eke out a living on the margin...but it appears a better opportunity here than in the hills of Huahuapan de Leon, Oaxaca.
That's it for today. We'll soon be heading east towards Phoenix-Scottsdale to visit friends and continue our annual medical visits. Hope this finds you well and keep in touch...tom and nancy
Monday, March 23, 2009
It's official...spring and our departure from Tecopa. It has been windy with near white-out conditions on Sunday due to the akili dust and near 5omph gusts! We're also finally back traveling. Our first day out we went 120 miles to Amboy, CA and old Rt 66. It was tough leaving as we'd met some wonderful people, had a great work experience at the Hot Springs and enjoyed much of the natural history of the area.
Tom made another camping visit to Death Valley...this time to the west side of the valley into the Panamint mountains near Telescope Peak, the highest in Death Valley at over 11ooo feet. The car camping experience is still a bit rough, but improving. Only problem is to remember everything and not worry about the hard rear floor of the car. Just add more padding next time!Seems my back and hips don't enjoy the sleeping arrangements. There was lots of walking and photo shooting and the weather was great.
More recently Ms. Nancy enjoyed her trip to Las Vegas with a wonderful meal at an East Indian lunch buffet. Later it was a trip to her favorite, the Barnes & Noble for an afternoon of tea and magazines. Tom enjoyed this as much with his favorite coffee. Finally a stop for some fresh produce, groceries and Trader Joes and then the 80mile ride home and a soak in the hot baths before bed. Can't beat it as a trip to the big city, even if it is Las Vegas.
We're now heading on to Yuma, AZ area and the annual dental visit via the scenic route across the Mojave Preserve, 29 Palms area and then along the west side of the Colorado River down to Winterhaven, CA just west of Yuma.
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
Tecopa continues to enjoy southerly winds bringing clouds and some warmth. Spring is definitely here and even some disparate wildflowers have been observed nearby.
Death Valley National Park is relatively close so we've made a few forays there to observe the bones of the planet and "long time"...the geology of periodic ocean, lakes, layering, uplifts and faults over millions and millions of years. It is a really humbling experience. Here's one of Ms. Nancy at Badwater, 232 feet below sea level and the lowest point in continental US.
Tom has been rediscovering car camping with a recent trek to Death Valley with Priscilla Prius, queen of the desert. He recently took off for Death Valley again and ended up driving all the way over the Panamint mountains on the west side of valley. Here the Panamint range is to the east near sunset at Panamint Springs.
The little Prius is proving to be quite a comfortable ride and a geat sleeping berth. More to follow as he's hoping to venture out again in a few weeks.
The time is running on our stay here and we're looking to leave around the 22nd of March for Arizona. Hope to make it to Las Vegas at least once more. Happy trails...