Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Singing California's praises - and heading home!

Oct. 6, 2008
Hualapai Mountain – what a great place to wake up! Just before sunrise I woke to the sound of something large digging around in the 100-gallon trash barrel at our campsite. I figured I’d see a bear out there, but instead was greeted by a small herd of elk dumpster diving. Several approached the barrel while one reached her head as far in as she could before the barrel started to tip and startle her into pulling her head out which brought the barrel crashing back down, thereby causing the others to jump back, then they started the process over again, time and again, for a good 10 minutes.

After the elk moved on (they’re pretty darn big), I crawled out of the trailer, took a little walk around the campground, then started sorting out the van a bit. It’s been a hectic couple of days, and with a hotel thrown in the mix, plus the knowledge that we’re heading toward home we’ve not done the best job of keeping our stuff sorted. A little cleanup/sorting was in order to make the final leg home simpler. While I sorted, eight white-tail deer wandered through camp, first jumping through the bushes and chasing each other in circles, then upon hearing the sound of rustling plastic bags, directly toward me to inspect our goodies. They were very curious sorts, almost like a family dog. I learned later that the camp host feeds them apple cores. Aha!

We were only an hour from California, and the girls couldn’t have been more excited to get to their home state and finally home. We had plans to have dinner with our friends Kirk and Jim who live in Havasu and Needles respectively, but they were flexible so met us for lunch instead.

While Kirk wrapped up her morning work obligations, the girls and I opted to take Route 66 rather than in the interstate from Kingman, AZ to Needles. The route took us through Oatman, a mining town turned entirely tourist driven. The town is best known for its herd of wild burros that wander the streets begging for carrots (and occasionally biting the hands that feed them). Founded as a mining town, the last mine was shut down in 1942 as “non-essential to the war effort.” Today there is mining in the area, but the emphasis has turned to drawing and keeping tourists in town for meals, ice cream, and nicknacks in shops reminiscent of Tijuana, Mexico. There are also daily gunfight reenactments, though the first was too late for us to meet our lunch date, so we carried on southwest.

Shortly before lunchtime we found our way to Moabi Park just off I-40 on the California side of the Colorado River/lake. We soaked our toes here and enjoyed the relatively warm water on a moderately warm desert morning.

I had planned to camp here, but with our early arrival, the girls wanted to press on toward home, another 6 hours or so away. Yep, they knew how much time it would take, but they didn’t care.

"How do you feel about being back in California?"
After a relaxing lunch with friends, we headed northwest. The girls made up happy California songs for much of that time, and we stopped at a fantastic coffee house, “Mama Hillybean’s,” in downtown Tehachapi for dinner and a nice break. After some scrumptious soup, bagels and other healthy, organic, California fare, we were on the road.

At about 10:45 p.m., Mr. B greeted us at the door, and so ended our journey.

9,611.7 miles, 18 states, 70 days, and though we were excited to get home, E’s already planning her next road trip.

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