Friday, January 27, 2017

RonnieAdventure #0240 - Imperial Valley, California

Most towns divided by the United States/Mexico border use the same name in United States and in Mexico; however, one town in southern California is rather ingenious and uses the name Calexico on the California side and Mexicali on the Mexican side of the border. 

Since we were in Calexico, we decided to go over to Mexicali to do some shopping; but much to our surprise, Mexicali is not the typical Mexican border town with all of the cute little shops that cater to U.S. Tourist. Mexicali is primarily a business community. So, we only stayed long enough to purchase some vanilla and then headed back to Calexico. Unfortunately, we still had to wait in a long line of people that were trying to enter the US.

W.E. Holt established the town of Holtville in 1903 and then went on to built the first electric power plant, the Holton Interurban Railroad, started the first church and the first newspaper, and donated land for a park. Hoteville is primarily an agricultural community that grows a lot of produce and is known at the "Carrot Capital of the World." Unfortunately, we missed that annual Carrot Festival and I had really wanted to try a carrot malt!

The City of Brawley has a significant cattle and feed industry and is known as the "Home of the Cattle Call." Yahoo! 

Calipatria is located 184 feet below sea level, which makes it "The Lowest Down City in the Western Hemisphere." However, the top of their flagpole is 184 feet tall; so if the dike ever breaks, the people of Calipatria can gather at the top of the flagpole and be saved!

The Sonny Bono Salton Sea National Wildlife Refuge is located along the Pacific Flyway, which is one of the major north-south flyways for migratory birds and extends from Alaska to Patagonia. Originally, the Refuge contained 37,600 manageable acres; but after the Salton Sea flooded the low lands, only about 2,200 acres are now manageable.

Geothermal activity is prevalent in the area and we counted five active geothermal electrical plants within a short distance of the Refuge.

Slab City received its name from concrete slabs that are the remnant of Camp Dunlap, an old WW II Marine training grounds. Only the barracks' slabs remain, but the slabs make great places for visitors to park their campers or build shelters.

People that live in Slab City year-round are called "Slabbers." Many of the "Slabbers" receive some type of government subsistence, but others just want to live off of the grid and to be left alone. There is no electricity, running water, sewer, or trash pickup in Slab City; but they do have a solar powered Internet Cafe and a shoe tree where you can leave or pick up a pair of shoes!!

Many people in Slab City decorate their vehicles to match their shelters and one of the thing that really amazed me is that I did not see any posted properties. In fact, just the opposite! Many properties had a welcome sign and invited people to just drop in for a visit and have something to eat, drink, and participate in other activities to be merry. 

There is no employment base in Slab City that I know of, but I was told that many residents donate time working at the Salvation Mountain facility. 

As I was leaving Slab City, I liked the sign that said: "CAUTION! Reality Ahead."

Adjacent to Slab City is the World Famous Salvation Mountain. In an address to the United States Congress on May 15, 2002, California Senator Barbara Boxer described Salvation Mountain as "a unique and visionary sculpture... a national treasure... profoundly strange and beautifully accessible, and worthy of the international acclaim it receives."

Salvation Mountain was created by Leonard Knight (1931-2014) and is made from adobe, straw, trees, scrap materials, and thousands of gallons of paint. There are numerous murals, Christian sayings, and Bible verses throughout the complex. 

Since the death of Mr. Knight, many people have been concerned with the future of the structure because of safety and health concerns. The complex requires constant maintenance, which is currently performed by a group of volunteers, and most of the paint used in the early years was lead-based. 

If you would like to volunteer to help with the maintenance, there is free parking at Slab City!

Bombay Beach (population 295 in 2010) is an unincorporated community located on the shore of Salton Sea and is the lowest unincorporated community in America at 223 feet below sea level. The population of Bombay Beach has been on the decline in recent years and now there are a lot of abandoned structures in the area. 

Time to get to a higher altitude before it starts to rain!

Salton Sea

Friday, January 20, 2017

RonnieAdventure #0239 - Palm Springs and vicinity, California

Palm Springs is a nice place to spend a few days; and if you are there on a weekend, you can find some great buys at the College of the Desert Campus Street Fair. The Street Fair is operated by the Alumni Association and their advertising brochure indicates that they have raised over $9.3 million that has been used for grants and scholarships for the College.

When Palm Springs was incorporated in 1938, the street markers were constructed using native stone from the area. Over the years, all of the original street markers were removed, except the one at Palm Canyon (Main Street) and Chino Drive.

Since so many movie stars have homes in Palm Springs, the City decided to start its own walk of fame similar to the one in Hollywood.

Although our grandchildren were not with us, I'm sure that their favorite Palm Springs shop would be the Elena Bulatova Fine Art Gallery that specializes in a different type of art.

Several companies offer tours of the City that go by many of the movie stars' homes, including the house that Elvis was going to be married in; but the wedding was moved to Las Vegas when the property was overrun by tourist and press photographers.

The Palm Springs Air Museum is one of those places that you can easily spend a full day looking at aircraft, watching movies, and visiting with the staff.

F-16N Falcon
A-6 Intruder
A-4J Skyhawk
P-47D Thunderbolt
B-17G Flying Fortress
British Spitfire
P-51D Mustang
B-25J Mitchell
F-86 Sabre Jet
AH-1 Huey Cobra
Bob Hope Stage
The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, billed as "One of the most unique adventures attractions on Earth --an engineering marvel featuring the World's Largest Rotating Tram Cars," is probably the most famous tourist attraction in the area.

The tram starts in the Sonoran Life Zone and then passes through four additional live zones, with the top visitor center located in the Artic/Alpine Life Zone. The top of the tram is located within the Mt. San Jacinto State Park, which contains 50 fifty miles of hiking tails, primitive campgrounds, a ranger station, and an adventure center for winter activities. The visitor center contains two restaurants, a cocktail lounge, viewing areas, natural history museum movie theaters and gift shops. We planned our trip up the mountain so that we could eat dinner in the restaurant and watch the sun set over Palm Springs.  

From the visitors center, the wind energy windmill towers look like small crosses lined up on the valley floor.

Just up the road in Desert Hot Springs is the famous Cabot's Pueblo Museum that was built by Cabot Yerxa. Cabot was known as idealist, a humanitarian, and a lover of the desert.

When Cabot started building his dream home, he needed water, so he decided to dig a well with a pick and shovel. What he discovered was the now famous Desert Hot Springs. On his second try he did discover a pure cold water aquifer, so he plumbed his house with both hot and cold water.

By the time Cabot passed away in 1965 he had built a 35-room, 5,000 square foot pueblo entirely from scrap and re-purposed materials. People now say that he was ahead of his time because he lived by the three R's - reuse, reduce, and recycle.

Cabot encouraged artist to come and stay at his home and he built two apartments for the artist to live in while they were visiting. After his death, the new owner continued to invite artist to the property and in 1978 Peter Toth carved 43-foot tall "Waokiye" from a fallen sequoia tree. (A brochure at the site states that in the Sioux language, Waokiye is said to mean "traditional helper.")

Every time I travel to Palm Springs, Kolohe makes me promise that I will go up the mountain to Idyllwild and collect large pine cones for her class. Since we were going right past the entrance to the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument, we decided to stop at the visitor center. 

The visitor center has a nice movie and several displays and surrounding the visitor center are various hiking trails that are popular with day trippers. It was worth a stop.

When I saw a sign advertising "The Freshest Ice Cream in the World," I had to check out the new "Creamistry" chain.  It's expensive, but everyone needs to try it once.

You start by telling the clerk what ingredients you want in your ice cream, then after mixing everything together the operator injects liquid nitrogen into the mixture and presto -- solid ice cream!

Located throughout the Palm Springs Valley are numerous wind energy towers of all types and designs. They offer tours of the wind farms; but unfortunately, we did not have the time to take a tour, so I will put that on my bucket list for our next visit.