Saturday, June 17, 2017

I Traveled To California And Arizona! (Part 3)

And so we continue with Part 3!  Click on the highlighted words to read Part 1 and Part 2 if you're just joining us.

Friday was our last full day in San Diego.  We decided from the start that this would be a relatively low-key day, especially since there were things we needed to do in order to get ready for the next leg of our trip.  Nevertheless, we didn't want to devote the entire day to preparations, so we headed out to a totally different part of San Diego than either of us have ever been and we headed out to the very first Franciscan mission in California.  It called the Basilica San Diego de Alcala, after the Alcala in Spain.  It's a relatively small place located at the top of a hill around 20 minutes from downtown San Diego, so it's not by the water at all.  We got there pretty much right when it opened.  We got a map and then walked through the bit of museum space there was and through the church that is there, which is still an active church to this day.  We were able to see what a Franciscan's monk's space might look like, look through the gardens, and then see the tools and items that have been dug up from the on-site archaeological dig (ongoing).  Even though I'm not a very religious person, I still found this to be a peaceful place and I loved the amount of care that went into restoring this place and becoming such an important place for many.

The monks who lived here (there were supposed to be two assigned here, but there was actually just one) were in charge not just of having a place to worship, but also educating (and ultimately converting) the native Californians.  I'm uncomfortable with that whole set up, but that's what happened.  The way the exhibit talked about it made it sound like the monks incentivized conversion to Christianity by providing education that was intended to help improve their lives.  Based on what I know about colonization and what happened to Native Americans all over North America, I'd be interested in hearing about this same span of time from the perspective of Native Californians.  I'd like to know what they thought and felt about this whole situation.

From there, we decided (because of my prodding) to return to the Whaley house, but this time during the day.  So we drove back to Old Town San Diego and grabbed some lunch at Casa Guadalajara first.  I wish I had a picture of this place.  It was pretty warm in San Diego at the time, but the outdoor eating space is where they put us and with all the shade, it was significantly cooler.  The whole restaurant is so colorful and the food there is incredible.  I'm not normally a guacamole person, but I had fantastic guac on my chicken quesadilla.  It was so yummy there.  I'd love to return.  Old Town has the reputation of being SUPER touristy (because it is... there's no way around it), but this restaurant is a little off the beaten path, so I think you escape some of that really cheesy, touristy atmosphere.  Anyway, eat here.

I wanted to return to the Whaley house because I wanted to take more pictures and also during the day, you're able to pay a cheaper entry fee and then you're able to walk around the house at your own pace.  So there are positives and negatives to both the day and the night tours.  I won't post more pictures of the Whaley house here though since I posted some in the previous blog post.

The rest of the day was spent preparing for the next leg of our trip-- driving to the Grand Canyon!  Or at least about half an hour away from the Grand Canyon.  We booked an AirBnB, but this place is a little bit different: it's basically a sandbox in the middle of a scrubby desert and you camp there.  So we had to get all of these provisions that we might not normally buy if we were staying in a solid structure.  We stocked up on veggies and s'mores supplies and more importantly, firewood.  We're camping after all.  If you don't have firewood, you don't eat.  And since we're in the desert, we brought four gallons of water for drinking and then when absolutely necessary, dousing fires and cleaning.  We packed all of this into our rental car (our trusty steed) and we already had our camping things packed and ready to go.  That was our one checked bag-- a giant suitcase with our tent, sleeping bags, sleeping pads, and a tarp.  We packed up the suitcases we used as carry-ons and then went right to bed.  We had a big day ahead of us...

Saturday, we woke up and were somewhat on a time schedule.  We knew that if we drove straight through to the Grand Canyon, it would take us about eight hours to get there from San Diego.  But we weren't driving straight through.  We had a couple stops in mind (because it's the adventures you have that really makes the trip, right?) which would amount to around 10 hours of being on the road.

One of my favorite games to play is Fallout New Vegas.  In the game, you're supposed to walk around gaining skills and eventually make your way to Las Vegas (rechristened New Vegas, since it's a post-apocalyptic world).  In this game, you spend a lot of time in the Mojave Desert.  So that's where we passed through first!  We drove in a North-Easterly direction from San Diego and drove to the Mojave Preserve.  This was a quick pass-through, but I would love to come back here sometime to explore some more.  You can apparently camp here as well.  We stopped at an old train station which has turned into a rest stop and that's where I really started reading up on this place.  There are so many different types of environments in this small part of the world-- it's a scrubby desert, but there are also sand dunes and cinder cones as well.  I would love to spend more time here (maybe in the winter sometime?).

Our next stop was a couple hours away in Oatman, Arizona.  So at this point, we've crossed the length of California (although kind of a lengthy way).  My parents visited Arizona several months before we did and they highly recommended that we go.  Why?  Because there are wild burros walking everywhere!  For some reason, they really like Oatman.  Oatman itself is a ghost town, but it has been revitalized into a tiny touristy area in the middle of the scrub desert on Route 66.  So as far as I know, no one lives here except the burros.  And they're pretty darn adorable :)  I'll leave a mess of pictures around this and the next paragraph.

I'm really glad that we stopped here, even for a little while and even though it was getting late.  The burros were so cute and I even got to feed them!  There's a lady in one of the stores who packs up cubes of, I think, hay that the burros can eat and that is relatively good for them.  And they love those treats.  You just need to show them the bag and they know exactly what they're about to get!  And sometimes you'll have a crowd around you trying to get at the same hay bite.

What was even better about this place for me was trying to leave, because that's when you really get a sense of what life is like when you're surrounded by wild burros.  We turned the car around and were about to hop on Route 66 to continue on our way when a burro went to go receive a treat and stopped in the middle of the road.  I didn't want to honk, because that seemed mean and apparently it doesn't startle them, really.  So as the driver, I waited helplessly before the kind lady we got treats from tempted the burros with more treats and cleared the road for us.  Thank you, kind lady!  And with that, we headed for Williams.

Route 66 was interesting to drive on.  It was a very beautiful place to drive-- it's so unlike Minnesota in this area, so I was just in awe everywhere we went, every curve that we took (and believe me, there were about a million hairpin turns in this part).  At one point, I just had to pull over to the side of the road to snap a picture of these formations poised dramatically by the side of the road.  It's a glorious place to drive and it's a surprisingly well-kept road.  Like, if you think of Route 66 pictured in Cars when Lightning McQueen gets to Radiator Springs, I thought it would be dusty and broken down and all that.  But it's a very smooth road.  It feels like you're gliding.

Jack and I switched driving I think one more time before we reached our campsite.  At this point, we had been in the car so long that we just wanted to get there.  Our first road trip as a married couple: survived.  It was getting darker and darker the closer we got and we were getting hungry, but we didn't want to stop because we were planning to cook dinner once we set up camp.  When we got to Williams (which is where our campsite was located), it was completely dark outside.  But not to worry, because we had the directions punched into our GPS.  What can go wrong, right?

So many things.

We followed directions as per the GPS and when we stopped, we were in front of a small, dark cabin and across the street from an old Winnebago.  We were completely safe, but something was not right... we continued down the road that was in horrible condition.  Imagine with me a dirt road with tire divets several inches deep in some areas, then the road gets all crazy so your car is tipped to the side while you're driving and with every turn of the wheel, you go over a new bump.  It's a hot mess out there in Williams back country.  And then we're driving over this in the dark.  Finally, we had been driving for a while and decided that it was time to call our host for backup.  Jack's phone had absolutely no service, but luckily my phone had very minimal service.  I could kind of access the GPS map, but more importantly, I could make and receive calls.  So a few phone calls later and a zillion bumps, we made it to our campsite!  Hurray!

It should be noted that I feel absolutely fine telling you all of this now that we're long safe at home and have survived that trip :)

I don't know how I did it, but while Jack was working on getting things in the tent, I had managed to start our campfire and get dinner started in roughly two minutes.  I must have been operating on adrenaline or something.

That first night, we ate our hobo dinners (potatoes, meat, and veggies wrapped in tin foil and tossed directly on the fire) and pretty much went right to sleep.

Tune in next time for Part 4!  We're going to the Grand Canyon next!

Thanks for Reading!


No comments:

Post a Comment

I love your comments! Comment away!