After spending one last weekend at the home of Bob's daughter and family...we reluctantly headed down their drive way about 12:15pm on Monday March 10th. It's always sad to leave there...we love the time we spend with Hope, Jerry, Emil and Nina. They are truly a special family.
We began heading south out of Pasadena but Bob changed his mind and we turned around, heading north to I-5 and then on to Highway 14. Our destination; Red Rock Canyon area. Bob said he'd driven thru there once when he'd been alone and wanted to go back and check out the area. We went thru Palmdale, stopped and got gas in Lancaster, passed an airplane junkyard of sorts in Mojave, CA. (Mojave is an interesting town with lots of history.)
We continued driving and finally came to the Red Rock Canyon area. (If you go to the link provided, scroll down and click on Ricardo Campground to see their pictures of this beautiful area.) We turned into the first campground sign we saw (Ricardo Campground) with the idea of just driving thru...after all it was only 4pm and too early to stop for the day. We had only driven for 4 hours. Let me tell you once we started driving thru...we were stunned by the unusual beauty we were seeing. Hills that looked like they'd been intricately carved by some ancient artist. It was breath taking !!! Since I keep a note book of our travels, I started writing down acceptable campsites for a future visit. We went all the way thru the campground and Bob stopped the truck...."what do you think?" he said. I said "I think we should stay here so we can have the time to study the hills." So we got a payment envelope and then went back thru, re-checking the site numbers I'd written down. We chose Space 44. The spot was quite level, and we'd have our own Joshua Tree right next to the truck. So I got out and sat on the picnic table while Bob went back to pay for our spot. We got out the lawn chairs and just sat, taking in the incredible beauty of the area. There are approximately 50 campsites, some for tents, some pull-thru spots for larger RV's and regular campsites for smaller RV's. Each site had a nice picnic table and a fire pit and more importantly ~ a beautiful view of the surrounding area.
While I was making dinner, Bob got a campfire going ( he loves a campfire), which was nice after the sun went behind the hills because it really cooled off (which happens at night in the desert)
What was first odd about this area was that while we sat there enjoying the beauty of this desert area we kept hearing but could not see (the sky was as clear as could be) jet planes. Then in looking at the map, we realized we were very close to Edwards Air Force Base and China Lake Naval Air Station....that would account for the high flying jets. We also saw and heard a few small private planes flying over the area.
The next morning we had breakfast and took on water and emptied our holding tanks and headed for Ridgecrest, CA (the official home of China Lake Naval Air Station.) This lovely town in the Mojave Desert was the home of my paternal grandfather. And he is buried there in the cemetery. He was divorced from my grandmother when my dad was a little boy and his second wife died of cancer back in the 1950's. Then he met and married a dear lady named Jessie. We all loved Jessie (even my grandmother liked her) and when they married she had a teenage daughter, named Deenie (Nadine). Deenie eentually married, had a family and still lives alone in Ridgecrest. On our last trip thru there a few years back, I called her but could not reach her. This time I didn't have her phone number with me but I knew where she worked, so we headed to her work place (a small private school) and low and behold there she was. She didn't recognize me at first ~ it's been a long time since we've seen each other in person but as soon as I said "Hi Deenie, it's me..Linda." Her face lit up and she came to me and gave me a big hug. Since she was at work (in between classes) we just stayed for about 20 minutes, figured out our relationship (she's my step-aunt), Bob took some pictures, we exchanged email addresses and then we were on our way. I remember her once telling me that she adored my grandpa Smith...he was a better step father than her own dad was a father. That always made me feel good, because even though I didn't see him very often, I always loved him and he was a wonderful loving grandpa. Hopefully, the next time I go thru Ridgecrest it will be a planned visit and I can stay longer.
From Ridgecrest we crossed over to Highway 395 (one of favorite routes thru eastern California & Nevada) heading north. There was still lots of snow on the fields we passed and along the sides of the highway. Later in the afternoon we arrived in Minden, Nevada and got a spot at the Carson Valley Inn RV Park.
I hope you'll look at the pictures in the larger format to see the unusual patterns in the hills at the Ricardo Campground.
At this point we are still about 800 miles from home...but we're getting closer.