I know, I know. You have been wondering, “Where have you been? We missed you. You are the best!” Stop it. You had me at hello.
Well, we arrived on Coronado Island on Saturday afternoon, July 30th. It has taken us about a week to adjust to the Pacific Coast Time. Yesterday evening was a big event in that we stayed up until 10pm.
We will give you some of our local tours and not any of the usual San Diego tours and attractions like the San Diego Zoo, Sea World and such. There is plenty of information out there on the fun parks.
For today, August 9, we toured the Barrio Lagan area -- an Hispanic neighborhood located under Interstate 8 and the Coronado Bridge. The Hispanic community has painted beautiful murals on all the concrete bridge abutments and pillars. It is stated that San Diego has the most murals of any U.S. city. The neighborhood is listed on the National Register Of Historic Places and also named as a National Historic Landmark.
A brief history as to why. In the 1960s, as the state and federal government built I-8 and the Coronado Bridge through their community, the community was told a park would be constructed under the bridge. After completion of the bridge and highway, the state then started to build a State Highway Patrol complex at the location.
The people of the community peacefully demonstrated for 12 days, whereupon their demands were met for the promised park. Power to the people. At that historic moment, the Hispanic leaders and community agreed all the concrete support structures would be painted with murals. Fifty years later and they have maintained the murals and the park.
I would recommend visiting during the day. Ample parking in the neighborhood. Good restaurants nearby.
We stopped at Salud’s for a beer and a horchata drink while sitting on the patio people watching.
"I've been dreamin' 'bout the West Coast (I've been dreamin')
Found some faces that I don't know (I've been dreamin' about it)
I'm seein' signs for California
Trade the shade for somethin' warmer
I've been dreamin' 'bout the West Coast (I've been dreamin')
Where the people take it real slow (I've been dreamin' about it)
I need the sun for just a year
I'll kiss the sky and disappear"
--One Republic’s song, “West Coast”.
We have arrived at Coronado, California yesterday. I will fill you in on our past two days but as we drove over the Coronado Bridge to Coronado, across bay from San Diego, we had to play this song.
Before arriving, we left Las Cruces, New Mexico on Friday morning and drove four hours west to Tucson, AZ. Since the next “big” city heading west on I8 would be Yuma, AZ, 3 1/2 hours away, we decided to make Tucson our home for the day and plan the next day to drive seven hours to our final destination, Coronado., CA.
We didn’t expect much to see in Tucson, but we had a very nice afternoon sightseeing. If you go you need to go to the Southern Arizona Visitor Center, which is the historical Pima Count Courthouse of the 1800s. The friendly staff provided us with maps of downtown and the pre-routed walking trips and sites to visit. They also told us about the free trolley which we took full circle to scope out the city.
Stopped halfway during the trolley ride to see the Arizona State University campus and also to have our picnic lunch. Back on trolley to 4th district to check out the hippy artist area, then we walked a 1/3 mile further back to the center of town to check out the boutique, historical Congress Hotel, built in 1918 and known for where gangster John Dillinger was caught and extradited to Crown Point, IN where he escaped. Soon thereafter he was eventually shot leaving the Biograph movie theater in Chicago, still located just walking distance from our former Chicago residence.
To show you the brilliance of Dillinger, he wouldn’t have been caught at the Congress Hotel except there was a fire in the hotel during his stay. Guests had to leave their rooms until the blaze was extinguished. As the evening wore on, he and his cronies asked the fire fighters if they would retrieve his luggage in their room. Rumor had it his real name was all over the luggage and room, identifying his true identity and not the alias he gave the hotel at check-in.
Back at the Visitor Center, there are great exhibits describing the history and geology of the area. There is a beautiful gem exhibit which was closed. There were various admission prices around the $10 range.
Also, there is a touching memorial outside the building in honor of those shot and killed during the mass shooting during a constituent meeting with Congresswoman Gabby Giffords.
In all, Tucson is worth a day visit. The next morning we started our last drive to Coronado, CA on I-8 along the U.S. and Mexico border running through the Sonoran Desert and the Imperial Valley, over the Cuyamaca Mountains into San Diego.
The best part of the travel, at least for me, was stopping at a rest stop just as we crossed into California. Ann noticed the strand of date trees and said, “ Maybe we can buy a date milkshake." Sure enough, the rest stop sold dates and Date Milkshakes!! Delicious. Can there be any bad milkshake? Maybe a rhubarb shake. A garlic shake?
We'll spend the next several weeks in Coronado and explore San Diego and maybe parts of Los Angeles.
All in all, we traveled approximately 2,700 miles from coast to coast. No incidents. All good. Gas prices ranged from from high $3+ to to high $4+ range with the exception of California. I won’t post their prices. See one of our photos for one price. We pulled off i8 to fill up and saw the price, did a quick mental calculation and “Nope." We can make it to San Diego with the amount we have now and have a gallon to spare. No worries.
To help with the purchasing of gas we use several apps. One is Gas Buddy, which everyone probably knows about and uses as it lists and maps out gas prices in your location. We also started using an app called Upside. Sign up on their app. They provide cash back on purchases, mostly gas prices, and some restaurants. When we would pull off for gas we would open the app and they provide the participating gas dealer with the best price. The app would show you the listed price, then the amount of per gallon which we found ranged from $.01 to $.10/gal off the pump price. Depending on the gallons you pump you get the cash back on your designated bank account, PayPal or simply a gift card.
We just started using sit, o we will keep you posted as we continue using the app. If you have an American Express Platinum card you can enroll with BP on their app and get $.05 off the BP pump price. Their app sets the pump price as you pull up to the station and you put in the pump number on the app. This technology is amazing to me.
One last thing: Business and construction (residential mostly) seemed very active in the Austin, Texas area and the oil/gas activity around Carlsbad, NM seemed to be busy in and around town. --MARTY
CARLSBAD, NM,_We left here on Thursday morning and headed to Carlsbad Caverns National Park, just a 30 minute drive south. The pictures don’t do the Caverns justice.
You can walk down to the caverns from its natural opening or take an elevator down. Yes, an elevator. You can also take a ranger-guided tour of the caverns for a charge of $8 or be a cheapskate and do the self-guided tour for free. We took the . . .the self-guided tour 🤑.
Whichever tour you decide, you always need to book a reservation on the nps.org website, which is only $1 per person. In preparing for the hike, be sure to bring a small flashlight, even though the trails and cavern are well lit. Also bring a light jacket in that the temperature is always 56 degrees, plus good walking shoes.
The hike takes up to 1 1/2 hours, but you can extend for an extra hour by touring the perimeter of the Great Room, an extra mile hike.
We recommend seeing the caverns. You will see many stalagmites and stalactites. Remember our elementary teaching? Stalactites hang tight to the ceiling while stalagmites might reach the ceiling.
Upon leaving the park, we began our drive to Las Cruces, NM via El Paso and route 62. It's 138 miles with no gas stations, so gas up as you leave the national park.
For the next three hours, you have a beautiful view of the Guadalupe Mountains, but plenty of windshield time and plenty of time to your thoughts. Like, “Why haven’t geologists discovered a bald-headed Neanderthal man. There must of been some. The Bible references baldies from 3,000 years ago. I wonder if Neanderthals invented the combover?“ But I digress.
On the drive down Route 62 we spotted in the distance a large expanse of white. Our first thoughts were it looked like the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah. When we arrived, it was the Salt Dunes Basin -- 2,000 acres of salt and gypsum. If we had the time, we would have stopped for a hike and photos.
Upon arriving in Las Cruces, we checked Into our hotel and then off for a quick tour and dinner. We drove through New Mexico State University, an agricultural school, then a terrible rainstorm with hail came down on us, ending our evening.
Take care and as our friend Bijan says, “Don't just have a good day. Make it a good day.”
The bats in action
ON THE ROAD AGAIN ...Nothing to report exciting these last two days. A lot of windshield time.
We left Baton Rouge on Tuesday morning, July 26, and continued our drive on interstate 10 to visit my sister in the Lake Travis Texas, area. Nothing exciting to report during our Tuesday drive other then the 105 degree heat starting in Houston to Lake Travis. By the way, the Austin area is booming in residential construction.
Lots of windshield time makes you think -- like Interstate 10 runs coast to coast from Jacksonville, Florida to Los Angeles. A pretty impressive construction feat. Especially the interstate section over an extended swamp area of Louisiana called the Achafalaya Swamp Freeway. Also, as I planned our trip, it dawned on me the first three nights I-10 would take us to three state capitols; Tallahassee (Florida), Baton Rouge (Louisiana) and close to Austin (Texas)..
On Wednesday, as we left my sister's house early at 6:30 am, we traveled back to I-10 on Route 280 through Johnson City, TX, the hometown of President Lyndon Johnson, and through Fredericksburg, TX, a cute town of German heritage and worth the visit. Along this route there are too many wineries to list. Ann now has this are on a “To be returned” list so we can visit the wineries and Fredericksburg.
Once leaving Fredericksburg, your drive time scenery doesn’t change as some of my photographs show. Hours upon hours of the same scenery which becomes mesmerizing and hallucinating. With the new Lane Assist system on new cars, you can actually take short naps on drives such as I-10 in West Texas. I came out of one of my hallucinating naps hearing my voice saying out loud, “Can I ride the pony Mommy? Can I?” (For the record this is all false).
By 5pm, we arrived in Carlsbad, NM for the evening. Convenient location for our visit tomorrow to Carlsbad Caverns Park, a 30-minute car ride away. More on this tomorrow. --MARTY
Well our second day of travel involved driving through four states (Florida, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana) and two time zones; Central Time and Twilight Zone. We arrived at our destination -- Baton Rouge, Louisiana -- around rush hour, which is always a well-planned, thrilling experience after driving driving 10 hours.
Upon arriving we still had enough energy and daylight to see the the State Capitol building, 34 stories tall and the 7th tallest building in all of Louisiana, the Old State Capitol building which looks like a Disney castle, the state university LSU, and of course, the mighty Mississippi River. We had a wonderful good old Southern dinner of seafood gumbo, hushpuppies and po’ boy sandwich at local Parrains’s Seafood restaurant.
On Wednesday we travel through the
Outer Limits (Texas). Until then. --MARTY
Our first night stay was at The Lodge at Wakulla Springs, a Florida state park. I was thrilled to discover that the 1954 horror movie, "Creature From The Black Lagoon," was partially filmed here. In the early ‘60s, my Dad played the movie in our dark basement, projected on a white bedsheet, for the Zimmer kids and all our neighborhood friends. It creeped me out so much I never forgot it. -- MARTY