To get to the forest I need to go through Bakersfield. So I head through Santa Paula to the 5, and then over the Grapevine to the 99 to Bakersfield. From there we’ll head past Lake Isabella, through Kernville and into the forest.
The Grapevine is amazing. I’ve never seen it like this. Not just spring green, but areas that have always been very brown all year are covered with a green and yellow-brown that looks like velvet. So soft.
We’re following the Kern River northwest from Bakersfield.
Been back in Ojai a bit. This time it feels different. I’m not just visiting, but hope to be staying. For those of you who haven’t heard the story yet, here are the basics.
In the morning, we walk over to the edge of the mountain where the other van was yesterday. The wind is still VERY intense coming up the side of the mountain. It’s hard to stand in place. The steepness of the angle is deflecting the wind over the top of the spot we’re parked. Who made that parking selection?
I’m amazed at the number of times a spot to park or camp has been show to me and it’s turned out to be the one spot out of the wind, shielded from rain, or in the shade most of the day.
We’re off toward Lake Arrowhead. The Idyllwild-Banning Panoramic Highway is wonderful and get’s us to Banning. On the way…
In the morning we start our Plum Valley hike about 7. I want to take our time and be done before the mid-day heat begins.
Beautiful early morning light. Sunlight and earth spin bringing the day’s warmth into the canyon.
Wildflowers along the trail.
We’re only about 10 hours from Ojai. Am I ready to zoom across from here to there? It does’t feel right. So, if were going to take a few days, what back roads shall we drive on? What’s between here and there that I don’t know about?
Poking around on the map, I find the Anna-Borrego Desert State Park in CA. Never heard of it. A quick look shows that it’s in midst of it’s spring bloom. Wild flowers and cactus. Nice! So, that’s where we’re headed.
On the way we drive through Aho. The downtown is vibrant. Big murals painted on buildings downtown. Classic Spanish/Mexican architecture. I’m surprised. Looks like the mines are still supporting the town.
I drive through other small towns in AZ on the way. Very sad. The majority of businesses are closed. Houses empty. In Tacna we go to the park. It’s in total disrepair. The playground is overgrown with weeds. The only sign it’s ever used are two chemical toilets — 90% full, and a stack of women’s magazines on one of the broken picnic tables under the pavilion roof.
I can understand how this is Trump country. Anyone promising to improve the despair that must be a prevailing emotion here could get people’s attention. Make America Great Again could be heard as doing something to revitalize our town. Open the restaurants again. Return the tax base to clean and paint the buildings and signage. To make this a place we’re proud to call home again.
On the road about 8 toward Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument. I’m psyched about this one. Every review I’ve read about this park has been awesome.
About 100 miles from the park I start seeing Saguaro Cactus occasionally along the highway.
As we go, they get more common. About 50 miles from the park I see the first Organ Pipe Cactus on a hill off to the right of the highway. I see a couple more as we approach the park, but the preponderance of Cactus are Saguaro. On the hills they are more numerous than the flat desert areas. Must be climatic, but I don’t know the details yet.