Coming down from Winter, I make it to a small famous place on the Arizona/ California border founded in 1967: Lake Havasu. It’s a very out of the way location, and doesn’t have as many large town amenities as one would think, but the calling card here is a Gift from Across the Pond: a Bridge. This Bridge used to span the Thames River in London, England. It is a beautiful open arch stone structure with wrought iron lights and an amazing view. It almost makes me forget the wasted several hours of my car troubles, where my poor Edyth would not start. As it turns out, the plugs shook themselves loose, an issue from the wires being replaced in Albuquerque. I almost feel as though, after my visit on the Bridge, I can make it the whole night to San Diego; cooler heads prevailed, and I was told that many worries would be abated if I stopped for a night before taking the California leg of HW78WB.
I pulled into Blythe, California, around eight in the evening. It took nothing to get through the California Border Patrol, which stops everyone coming into the State, and most people moving about the Southern quarter of the State. The Patrolman I spoke to served with 3/1, from Germany. My first stop in town was the Best Western, which had one available room on the first floor, smoking, which the clerk said she could give me at $107 plus tax for the evening, 11AM checkout. Thankfully, the Motel Six wasn’t far and the last room on the first floor, smoking, was $65 including tax, noon checkout. It makes me wonder why I even bother to check the Best Western anymore. Get to the room, spray as much perfume as I can to cover as much of that smell as possible, and check the local Chinese menu. It has a $20 minimum order, which is all I have in my pocket, which means no Chinese, because if you don’t have enough to tip, you don’t have enough to order out. Returning the nice clerk’s only menu, a Trucker suggests I go to the Sizzler for dinner, because this is one of the better ones he’s been to. I decide to check it out. My dinner was a six ounce steak with rice, endless salad and soup bar, with an ice cream, for $15 even. I was able to get a good dinner, and had enough to tip, and felt entirely satisfied with my evening. My night was relaxing and uneventful, and I slept in till ten. I checkout just before I would get a late fee and take off.
HW78WB takes you through some of the most beautiful and natural habitats of Southern California: the Chaparral, a brown rock Desert, and the Imperial Sand Dunes. Easy and Daring as the Chap and Desert were to Cowboys and Natives alike, the Dunes are truly one of California’s most Pristine and Natural Wonders. They come at you from a distance, a challenge from the Past, daring you to try and cross on Horseback, with little to no water in your canteen, in the Winter Heat. The Sand is blowing across the road and I have to fight my way along the highway around RV’s and pull-behind trailer homes; there is some sort of Event riding up on the Dunes, and everyone is coming early. I don’t stop. Once past the RV’s and their plethora of villages on the West side of the Dunes I finally come into San Diego County, and another Border Patrol. I make my left to Escondido and set the cruise control; there are only a couple of very small towns and one small city before I hit the Mountains.
Uphill and start the Switchbacks: these tight slow turn wont end until I come down into the flatland of Ramona. The locals on this road are trying to take these roads in the higher double digits, when signs clearly post something closer to school zone speeds. The need to allow people to pass is far greater than the availability of turnoffs to allow it. I take my time and ignore my dear little TomTom; the highway comes right into Julian as Main Street. I stop for overpriced gas and a small meal, my first of the day at nearly four in the afternoon. The very nice, very bored, very anxious Hostess lets me know that I am the only customer in the last hour. My food is fast in coming: pasta primavera, which is mostly mushrooms, but I can’t exactly complain because so very far and between do you have mushrooms that are done right. Once back on the road I ride my brakes down the Mountain, going from 4000ft to 2000ft in about thirty minutes. I pull into my Aunt and Uncle’s house in the Escondido Hills just after dinnertime. A night on the Daybed and I have the day with my Uncle: we take a late drive down to a nice fish-n-chips lunch on the Mighty Pacific. I get some time to put my feet into the water: it’s still so cold that it gives me a shock, even this far South. Home again and Happy; there are even very small living clams about my feet, catching their lunch on the shallows of the surf.
Wednesday: slept late and didn’t care. My Uncle has a real treat for me: we’re going somewhere on the Harley. I get to wear his oversized leather jacket, and my Aunt’s spare helmet. I put my feet back into my Combat Boots for the first time since starting this Journey, to ride the right way, and wear full pants on a day where I should probably be walking around in a swimsuit. We hop on and I do what any good motorcycle passenger should do: lean back against the seat, let my Uncle do the work and driving, and enjoy my ride. We take the Scenic route past Lake Wohlford to a place off hidden in the Hills: Bate’s Nut Farm. In the Summer and Spring this place is a venue for outdoor events, with hot food vendors, musicians, and bikes galore! Today, it’s a humble nut farm with a general store, a ladies boutique, and a few animals to hand feed: goats, sheep, llama, pigs, emu, chickens and turkeys, and a whole gaggle of geese. We pick up some Red Velvet Fudge and Pomegranate jam, then head home. It is an amazing ride. We get home just in time to meet my other Aunt, and we head to a late lunch at a place done up in Classic TV and Collectable Coins. Then we take a small trip to Double Peak Park: the view alone is almost enough to kill for. You can see all the way from Mexico to Catalina Island.
Escondido Day Three: My Aunts, Uncle and I head to the San Diego Zoo Safari and Wildlife Park. We spend most of the Day there, seeing some of the Animals and talking of dreams to go to Africa where these amazing creatures are from. I once did some research: two years ago, you could plan an expedition including airfare for two weeks on Mount Kilimanjaro for just over 5K. I currently have that money set aside for retirement, but damnit if there was ever Temptation to be lead to: that is it. We get onto the Safari Bus/ Tram and head off into the Habitat. There are more creatures running about without fences between them than I have ever seen; this is truly Heavenly Habitat. Part of the History of this place is that they are part of a genetically-diversifying zoo-exchange breeding program, and have been since the late 1960’s. There really has only been a public ZooPark since the early ’80s. After a light lunch and a quick trip to a tourist shop, we head home: my Aunt her hers, my Uncle, Aunt and I to theirs. It has been a fabulous day, and an extraordinary cornerstone in my Journey. Tomorrow is a new adventure in a new City; I join my Aunt in Los Angeles for the Chinese Lunar New Year. I am anxious with anticipation!