Thursday, Dec. 26, 2013 - Tuesday, Jan.7, 2014
We left Kathy's the day after Christmas. She was standing in her front yard breathing a huge sigh of relief as she waved goodbye to us. We drove down to Bakersfield and took Hwy. 58 to Barstow in the Mojave Desert. At Barstow we took I-40 to Ludlow, where we took old Route 66 and stopped to spend the night at Amboy Crater.
In the morning we hiked the three-mile, round-trip trail up to the rim of the crater. This is a view of the lava field and desert from the rim of the crater. It is a National Natural Landmark. It is 250 feet high, 1,500 feet in diameter and about a mile around the rim of the cone.
An explosive eruption breached the crater wall on the back side, leaving a wide opening where you can hike up to the rim. John is in the crater, heading toward one of the trails up to the rim.
It is situated in one of the youngest volcanic fields in the U.S. in the Barstow-Bristol Trough and approximately straddles the boundary of the Mojave and Sonoran Deserts. Now we are on the rim looking back into the crater.
There were six different periods of eruptions that created the resulting nested group of volcanic cinder cones encompassing 24 square miles. Volcanic activity started an estimated 6,000 years ago with the last period of eruptions as recently as 500 years ago.
Artwork on the desert floor.
From here we headed back to I-40 until we crossed into Arizona and spent four nights in the desert a few miles south of Lake Havasu City. This area is just 4-wheeler heaven and we saw lots of them.
We went for several hikes while we were camped here. The desert is really beautiful here. Lake Havasu, which is many miles long, was created when Parker Dam was built in the 1930s. It was the tallest dam in the world at the time.
If you look closely, you can see several RVs in the center of the picture. Ours is among them. What a beautiful spot to camp!
From Havasu we drove down toward Parker and stayed two nights at the La Paz County Campground. This is just one of many "senior" toys we saw in the campground. Not sure how much good his carport was doing. Sign says, "Old Fart Parking". Maybe he just had a senior moment and forgot to put the top on the carport.
Just a couple scenes in the campground. Looks like Santa is taking a break after the holiday rush.
Sometimes we feel like hobos, too.
These RVs had the waterfront spots and each spot had it's own shelter with cement pad. Most of them had put up sun shade walls around them and Christmas lights and some had full-size Christmas trees.
Adjoining the county campground, is a little classier campground, called the Pirate's Den. Their waterfront sites have these really nice shelters with electricity, that most people have set up with patio tables and chairs, full-size grills, Christmas trees, etc.
This is where they usually gathered in groups for "happy hour" around 4:00. It's 5:00 o'clock somewhere right?
This is the marina at the Pirate's Den Campground.
Zooming in, this is the Black Pearl Restaurant with the Black Pearl ship moored at the pier.
This flag flies over the office where you check in. It says, "The beatings will continue until morale improves." I'm not sure I want to stay here. It's a little out of our budget anyway.
Back at our campsite, we had a neighbor who was really on a budget. I never did see a tent or camper. Not sure if he just slept out in the open or in a friend's camper, or what.
Oh, those Canadians! Sign says, "The time flies, when you're having rum."
This group set out a sign to block their street every day about 3:30 pm, so they could gather for happy hour. The sign says, "Slow, Children at Play." I guess it's true what they say, "When you get old, you become childlike again."
Here we were walking over to the Roadrunner Floating Restaurant right next to our end of the campground. We had the lunch special, hamburger, fries and a beer for $7.75, and it was really good!
Then we moved on to Blue Water Casino where we spent one night. Our neighbors there really had us outclassed. The great thing down here is you see rigs that appear to be worth no more than a few hundred dollars all the way up to a half million dollars or more, but all seem to be happy and friendly and enjoying the same sunshine and awesome weather.
The Blue Water Casino is really nice. They have a beautiful indoor pool with water slides and this really nice marina with tons of boat slips and two launching ramps.
Another view of the marina island with a bridge over to the outdoor restaurant and outdoor stage and concert area. The two concerts they had coming up were Winona Judd and Kenny Rogers.
They also have a really nice campground down in a ravine with beach access. These little driftwood people were in front of one RV in the campground. Notice the beer cans in the holsters.
We went to the Thursday night All-You-Can-Eat Fish Fry at a nearby restaurant. It was good, but I didn't need any seconds. John probably didn't either, but he didn't want to let them down, so he had a little more. Notice the leg lamp next to the cash register, from the Christmas Story movie. If you haven't seen it, you are missing out. It's a classic!
When I stopped at the restroom on the way out, I couldn't resist lifting this toilet lid that was hanging on the wall. I don't know what the Duke would think about this. A sign above it said, "Don't squat on your spurs." Good advice, it would seem. John said there were pictures of Marilyn Monroe and such in the Men's room. I'm finding that you should never pass up a chance to check out the restrooms. Some of them can be very interesting, entertaining and informative.
We stayed one night at the Walmart in Parker and drove down to Poston to see the remains of an old Japanese Internment Camp from WWII. The government called them War Relocation Centers. Sounds much nicer, doesn't it? FDR signed an executive order authorized by the Secretary of War to establish zones from which any or all persons could be excluded or evacuated. 120,000 people of Japanese ancestry living in strategic western states (mostly California) were evacuated and interned in 15 wartime Civilian Control Administration Centers (WCCA), mostly on fairgrounds or race tracks surrounded by barb wire fences under heavy military surveillance. Several were on Southwest reservations. They were rounded up, forced to leave their homes and businesses, and only allowed to bring whatever luggage they could carry.
Almost overnight, from May to August in 1942 (imagine the heat), Poston Camps I, II and III became Arizona's second largest city with 17,867 people. Thousands were taken from their homes, numbered, tagged and herded into places like Poston and held captive by their own country for three and a half years until the government finally realized the full moral and legal implications of what it had done to its own citizens.
When they arrived on trains in the heat of the summer in 1942, there were rows of double-roofed, tar-paper barracks 20 x 100 feet long with thin partitioned rooms of 20 x 24 feet, each room housing one family of up to eight people. In the cold desert nights they were practically freezing. Eventually, the internees made adobe bricks and rebuilt the walls of the barracks. The picture above shows the remains of a school building the internees built for their children. There were 5,300 children that attended schools at the three camps with academic and athletic rivalries and competitions between them. Many brought seeds with them and the irrigation canal was built to run through all three camps. They grew 34 varieties of food crops, including the white radish (Daikon) which yielded 9,149 pounds per acre. They also raised chickens and hogs.
We met a young man here (about 30 or so) on his way home from work. He said when he was in high school, he played in basketball tournaments here on the reservation and the players were housed here in the barracks. At the time, he had no idea what they were. For a time they were also used as a rehab center. They are one of the few surviving internment camps.
This is a memorial put up on the south edge of town in the 1995 by some of the internees from Sacramento in cooperation with C.R.I.T (Colorado River Indian Tribes). C.R.I.T. provided the land on the reservation. In 1943 there were 1,200 internees, young men and women, from the Poston camps who volunteered for military service and fought and died while their families were being held here. Most were Nisei, second generation Japanese-American citzens by birth, who fought and died on battlefields in Italy, France and Germany. The 442nd Regimental Combat Team emerged as the most highly decorated U.S. Army Unit in WWII. Others served in Military Intelligence. Nisei became draftable in the fall of 1943 as their selective service classification was changed from 4C to 1A. Men and women served in nearly every theater with honor, courage and pride to help protect and preserve for all Americans the same constitutional freedoms that were at the very time being denied to them and their families. Some, especially college students, responded to the urgent call for workers to assist with the sugar beet harvest in the mountain and midwest states, looking for employment and a better way of life. There were also Germans and Italians interned. There was an internment camp at Fort Lincoln near Mandan, ND. across the river from the current Fort Abraham Lincoln. There were 22,532 Japanese-Americans who served from 1940 to 1945 in the U.S. Armed Forces. 1,200 from Poston, men and women, with 117 casualties, 25 men died.
Driving around the Parker area. There are wild burros everywhere out in the BLM (Bureau of Land Management) land. We saw 7 or 8 wandering around this campground which was across the river from the county campground we stayed at.
This campground had quite a few of what they call park model homes, small permanent places owned by individuals who come south to spend the winter.
This is a view back across the river toward the La Paz County Campground and the Pirates Den Campground.
See the tracks up the sand dunes? Those crazy 4-wheelers and dirt bikers are everywhere!
This is a cholla cactus in bloom in one of the campgrounds we drove through.
Then we moved on to Bouse for a couple nights where camped in the desert again.
General George Patton established Camp Bouse here in Butler Valley (approx. 30 miles behind this monument) as a site for training over 5,500 carefully screened and qualified volunteers. They were trained to use a highly secret weapon called Canal Defense Light, that the soldiers dubbed "Gizmo". This is right on the highway that runs through Bouse, which is its main street and business district with two small cafes, a bar, laundromat and VFW. That's about it. There's not much here. We did stop at a lady's house where there was a box and a sign for free grapefruit and oranges. They were wonderful and I stopped back for more before we left town. She said they were off her neighbor's trees who never come down anymore. So she canned as many as she could and was just picking them and giving them away. I should have asked her how you can them.
It was a 13 million candle power searchlight mounted on the tank turret to illuminate the area at night to dazzle the enemy with its flickering light. Troop trains brought the highly trained soldiers and their equipment from Fort Knox under heavy guard in Oct. 1943. They trained in absolute secrecy, mainly at night. The mysterious secret camp was the Canal Defense Light Project Training. It was the home of the 9th Tank Group consisting of 6 tank battalions, 1 armored infantry battalion, an ordnance company and a station hospital.
A donkey named Eight Ball was their Morale Officer and there is a cute poem about him on the plaque. Camp Bouse was one of twelve such camps built in the Southwestern deserts to harden and train U.S. troops. It was a simulated theater of operations. The Camp Bouse area has been cleared and farmed since 1943 and hundreds of target rockets were plowed under that are now sometimes found. There are lots of cement pads left in the desert from when the training went on here. They make great places to park an RV when you are boondocking in the desert.
From Bouse, we made a straight shot over to Phoenix on Monday, as I fly out early Wednesday morning to Jamaica for my niece's wedding. I'm looking forward to seeing some of my family, but I bet they are just looking forward to warm temperatures!