Monday, July 15, 2013

Phoenix again

July 3 - 14, 2013:

After stowing the RV in the back row at the campground, it was on the road again.  We avoided the most direct route (Route 101) towards LA that could be very congested with holiday traffic.  Instead we went a bit out of our way to Route 5 south and then Route 58 east to Bakersfield.  We made a stop along the way at La Casa Fruita which is a huge fruit and vegetable market with restaurant, deli, kids rides, RV Park, gas station and hundreds of old farm trucks, tractors and implements.  It was way better than we imagined.

Casa de Fruta Tractor, there are hundreds

Display inside the store

Fruit carton label

There is a large agricultural area west of Bakersfield which seems to be in the midst of a huge nasty battle over water rights.  There were road signs about every mile, blaming Congress and assorted politicians for a reduction in water allocations and a dust bowl condition that they have created.  Ironically a few miles away near Bakersfield, we came upon new housing complexes with perfect green well watered grass lawns.  The water situation in the west is really scary with the developers, the farmers and the ranchers all competing for the water and one day there isn't going to be enough to go around.
It had been a hot travel day, the air temperature along Route 5 got up to 108 and it was still over 100 in Bakersfield at 5 PM.  We took a short walk in downtown Bakersfield until we started sweating, then got in the truck and drove around with the AC blasting instead. There are several really cool old theaters and buildings in the downtown arts district.  We then visited Lengthwise Brewing for dinner where I ordered Fish and Chips to prove to Twinkles that I like it, but honestly would have much preferred a burger.  She on the other hand had a really fine looking salad.  This is a trendy Bakersfield micro brewery with finely crafted beers that are pretty much wasted on us, we prefer watered down Coors Light, but the atmosphere was good which counts for half the dinning experience to me.

Fox theater in downtown Bakersfield

Mural in downtown Bakersfield

On the road again at 10 AM (we can't seem to do the early start anymore) for another blazing hot day which peaked at 115 degrees.  It was another good uneventful driving day with a museum stop in Boron, California famous for its Borax mine and the 20 mule team and then another pit stop in Barstow for fuel and Del Taco's.  We arrived in Needles around 5 PM and toured the downtown all decked out in it's Route 66 nostalgia. Lots of photo OP's for me there.  We checked into the Days Inn, very nervously due to the horrible bad reviews posted, but the AC is working, that's the main review criteria today.  We then had an excellent meal at Juicy's Famous River Cafe, (the river is dry), salad for me, highly recommended.

I get out early in the AM to wander around Needles and take some Route 66 photos before the 100 + temperatures set in.  Then a big Breakfast at the interesting Wagon Wheel Restaurant in Needles.  We then take Route 40 east to Route 95 south through the Lake Havasu City area.  There are beautiful areas along this route along the Colorado River, but the beauty is sadly spoiled (to me), by the steady trailer park, RV and water sport development. We stopped in Quartzite which is mostly deserted now, then continued on to our destination in Buckeye, Arizona.  We made a stop near old downtown Buckeye at "Rex's Saloon" for a couple of beers.  It looked like a dive bar from the outside, but inside it was outfitted with beautifully refinished old barn boards and beams and was very nice and clean.

Welcome to Boron, California

Old Borax sign in museum

Old Borax 20 mule team advertisement

Mother Road Mural in Needles, California

Rt. 66 Buick with UFO above

You can get your Econo Smog & Tune on Rt. 66 

Needles take out counter

The old Needles Train Station and Harvey House
Restaurant currently under restoration

Lupe & Fidel's family owned restaurant in Needles

Breakfast at the Wagon Wheel

We are now settled into Cindy's house, quite an nice adjustment being in an actual full size house again, it feels like a vacation.  Cindy's house is actually in the town of Buckeye.  Phoenix is made up of a number of once individual towns, like Glendale, Avondale, Peoria, Goodyear and Buckeye that have since grown together.  Buckeye is now the outer limit of Phoenix and is mostly all real farm land.  Downtown Buckeye looks like something from the 1960's, is very farm oriented, folksy and totally unlike Phoenix.  Phoenix is presently in the "Monsoon season" of the year when there are occasional dust and rain storms.  There have been two dust storm warnings this week, but both storms did not make it to Phoenix.  It has also been fairly cloudy and more humid than normal, but still no rain. 

I escaped everyone for a few hours on Sunday to go to an "old school" blues music event fund raiser at the Rhythm Room in downtown Phoenix.  I say "Old School" as I don't believe they have the need to check many ID's for legal drinking age.  

On Thursday we made a trip to the town of Carefree to the Heard North Museum.  It is a small annex of the famous Heard museum in downtown Phoenix.  It had a very interesting exhibit on Indian ledger art. This art form developed after the Indians were reduced to reservation life, sent to white schools, had no buffalo hides to paint on anymore and substituted old used ledgers to draw scenes depicting former battles and tribal functions.

Indian ledger art exhibit at the Heard North Museum

A new Indian ledger book that I had to purchase

On Friday, I went to the Arizona State Capital museum, my first time there.  The original Capital building is beautiful, but is mostly utilized as a museum now, with an ugly modern Administration Capital building built in front of it.  Many of the original offices and the senate chambers  remain intact with their original furniture.  Also a really good exhibit on the USS Arizona history and what really was unusual was a large display of the silver that was on the ship.  It was incredible to me that the Navy would have a huge quantity of custom engraved silver bowls, cups, pitchers, etc on a war ship that would be more suitable for the royal family. Equally remarkable is the fact that they were saved.

Arizona State Capital rotunda

Model of the French "Friendship Train" 

A Punch bowl set from the USS Arizona

The Arizona Senate chambers
just as they looked in early 1900's

The Arizona State Capital

Saturday evening my brother-on-law John took me to a "Phoenix Rattler's" Arena Football League game. The Rattlers are the 2012 League Champions and are entering the playoff's  in 1st place this year.  It was a colorful, fun, fast paced event event.

The Phoenix Rattler's in action

Sunday we took Tatum to the downtown Heard Museum for a special Indian hoop dance and flute music event followed by dinner at my sisters house.

A sculpture outside the Heard Museum

Indian baskets in the Heard Museum

I report to Fortis College in Phoenix Monday morning to start my dental hygienist session with my niece Angie.  That should be something to talk about, keep following.

Twinkles and Slick

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