50th HS Class Reunion 2016 Trip travel blog

Depth of the Black Canyon

Rainbow Wall

Loan Cypress

Depth of Canyon compared to the Empire State Bldg.

Explanation of the comparison

Nice Mule Deer Buck

Joshua Tree NP Sign

Information about Joshua Tree

Enlargement of Explanation

Good Looking Joshua Tree

Another nice Joshua Tree


More Rocks


Explanation of Arch

Betty "under" BIG Rock

Bunch of Joshua Trees


More Rocks and Joshua Trees

October 3, 2016 (Monday): Left Denver by 7:00 AM so that we could get to the Black Canyon of the Gunnison NP early enough in the late afternoon to see the spectacle. We knew nothing about this National Park, so Betty and I were pleasantly surprised. The Gunnison River has carved this crevasse the way the Colorado River carved the Grand Canyon. In fact, they are very similar but the distance across the canyon in the Black Canyon is probably about a ½ mile, whereas the distance across the Grand Canyon is probably 5 miles. The distance to the bottom of the Black Canyon is twice as high as the Empire State Building (see photo). Other photos are included, especially the one of the far wall – see the two dragons! It only takes about 2 to 3 hours to cover the one continuous road, including the time to walk to the overlooks. Well worth the time spent. We got back to the camper before sunset. The campground was very nice. The overnight temperature got down to below freezing; therefore, had to disconnect the water supply at night and reconnect in the AM. When traversing the Rockies, the highest elevation we attained was 11,200’; our campground was at 7,500’. Distance traveled was about 270 miles.

October 4, 2016 (Tuesday): Got going by 9:00 AM and met our friends (from Olney, MD) George and Dee Tompkins for lunch in Grand Junction, CO, where they now live. George and I retired on the same date, July 1, 2001. He and Dee moved to Grand Junction and Betty and I moved to MB. After lunch we were our way to a much-anticipated section of I-70 in Utah. We had not been on I-70 since leaving Denver. We picked it up again just north of Grand Junction. From there to the Utah line is only about 25 miles. On a previous trip through Utah on I 70, I concluded that a particular section of this highway is the most scenic on any interstate in all of the U.S. We may not have traveled on all of them, but many tens of thousands of miles. The area I’m talking about is just before (west of) Green River, UT (the town is at mile marker (MM) 164), for about 75 miles to about MM 100. The views are ever changing – all mountainous. Almost all of the views are on the right side of the car (going west) so that made it easy for Betty to take the pictures while moving. A few are included, but not enough to do the scenery justice. If any of you are ever out this way, don’t miss it! We continued I-70 to I-15 where I-70 ends – I suppose because of the big mountains further west. I-15 runs north-south from near LA to at least Salt Lake City. We went south on I-15 and stayed in Beaver, UT. Very nice campground. Overnight temperature was more reasonable than the night before. Travel for the day was about 380 miles.

October 5, 2016 (Wednesday): Got started about 9:00 AM and stopped in St. George, UT to visit John’s cousin, Patty Foster. Had a nice visit for about an hour and then on our way. She lost her husband about 2 years ago and we had not seen her since. Arrived in Las Vegas about 4:00 PM. About 30 miles after St. George, you enter the Virgin River canyon. My memory of this was that it was a was a spectacular construction project, but after going through it again, I realize that it is a major project, but nothing that I remembered. What is remarkable about this section of the interstate is that it goes through the northwest corner of Arizona, but not one Arizona resident can enter the roadway from Arizona! It must have been quite contentious for Arizona to share (1/4) of the cost of the interstate when none of their residents can use it – directly at least. In Las Vegas we went out to dinner with a long-time friend (from Olney, MD), Herbie Gerstenzang. His wife (Sheila) could not join us because of another engagement. After dinner Betty and I did a little gambling at the Red Rock Casino. We stayed at the Nellis AFB FamCamp, which I consider one of the best military camping facilities in the U.S. – at least for the ones we’ve visited – and they plan to add 82 more spaces in 2017. Distance travleled: 215 miles.

October 6, 2016 (Thursday): We got going buy about 9:00 AM, and traveled across the great deserts of Nevada and California. We didn’t have quite enough fuel to get to Twenty-nine Palms, CA, so we stopped in Amboy, CA to get enough gas to get to our destination. It was the only gas station in town (I really don’t think there was an actual town) and they charged $5.00/gallon. I got three gallons and the attendant came out to put the gas in the car – so that I didn’t give one ounce too much. Speaking of the cost of gas, we’ve paid from $1.87 to $2.55 per gallon. Now that we’re in CA, I suppose we can expect to pay in the $2.50 range. Betty loves to go to mineral hot springs (good for the joints), so in the evening, we went to Desert Hot Springs for a good mineral bath soak. It was fantastic! We stayed (for two nights) at the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twilight Dunes RV Park. It was very nice but there was no internet service, nor did they have any bathroom facilities. Distance traveled: 230 miles.

October 7, 2016 (Friday): By 9:00 AM we were up an out for a full day of activities – but no driving (at least not towing the trailer). We went to the Joshua Tree National Park, which is essentially “across the road” from the Marine base. It was very interesting with lots of beautiful rock formations – a lot like the ones in Arches National Park in Utah. And a lot of joshua trees, which really are not trees, nor are they cacti (according to one of the photos). The park was not as spectacular as a lot of the national parks, but well worth visiting. All the parks are different from one another – justifying our attempt to visit them all. We’ve seen about 2/3 of them. Then we went to the Desert Hot Springs mineral baths again. That evening we (Betty) finally had a chance to clean all our dirty clothes.

October 8, 2016 (Saturday): Got going about 10:00 AM because not far to travel (215 miles). The trip out of the high desert (~3,000’) to the lower desert (~1,500’) put us just north of Palm Springs (pretty close to Desert Hot Springs). We got on I-10 at this point and headed west towards Los Angeles. The suburbs of LA are so spread out that I think they start about 50 miles from downtown. When we got closer to LA, we started experiencing traffic delays. We went through the area just north of downtown LA and continued to Oxnard, CA where Port Hueneme Naval Base is located. Hueneme is pronounced “Wa-Ne-Me”. It’s actually called Ventura County Naval Base (not nearly as interesting). We probably lost about 2 hours in traffic and didn’t get to the Fairways RV Resort (on base) until 4:30 PM!!!! Stayed there for 3 nights to visit relatives, one friend, and one national park. I don’t think I’ll get close to LA again! Weather was beautiful and campground was very nice. Concrete slaps, full hookups, and WiFi – and the bathrooms with excellent (one of the best I’ve seen on a military base).

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