Sunday, March 26, 2006

Southern to Northern California

While in Hesperia, we were surprised by the sight of fresh snow in the mountains and the snow and ice on Cajon Pass. It truly was a beautiful sight on the horizon; unfortunately, Hesperia and Victorville remained brown, dry, and windy. Looking for some exercise, we drove to the Devil's Punchbowl state park & hiked the trail; very steep for the first mile, then fairly level into the tree line (and snow). The area is interesting in that it is where two fault lines, the San Andreas and Pinyon, collide and have formed unusual rock formations. We were well into the forest and snow, although comfortable in the sunny and warm weather. While in the area, we visited the former George AFB, which was once the training base for the F-4 Wild Weasels. The flightline area is being used by a number of aircraft maintenance firms; a number of B-727s and RJs were parked there, along with a few dozen MD-80s & DC-9s parked on the far side of field, apparently in dry storage. There are still a number of buildings with 35th FW markings, and other buildings, such as the officer club and gym are still intact but vacant. It was disappointing to see the base housing area, with what was fairly new housing, vacant with the windows broken, trash strewn around, etc. It's too bad it's going to waste since the area (Adelanto) is pretty depressed. Our next stop was Edwards AFB, to stay at the FamCamp and meet with our friends Kirk and Sue. Edwards AFB is the perfect place to test aircraft, since anything falling from the sky will have little discernable impact on the desolate landscape. 30+ miles from Lancaster, the base combines an unusual combination of mediocre facilities and miserable weather to rank it right up there with Altus as my worst locations in the Air Force. Kirk and Sue's arrival helped ease the pain, and we enoyed catching up on the news of Dayton and friends, and we took a day trip to Lone Pine and the Mt. Whitney area. Although the mountains were cloud and snow covered, we had a great time touring the area, particuarly seeing the sites where many movies and old TV shows were filmed. The area was used as the backdrop for many of the old westerns, like the Lone Ranger, but was also a stand-in for the Khyber Pass and other far-away areas. Gunga Din, Lives of the Bengal Lancers, and Charge of the Light Brigade were also filmed here. We also stopped at Red Rock Canyon State Park which has some interesting rock formations and a great campground. Leaving Edwards, we traveled through Tehachapi, Bakersfield, and settled in at Camp Roberts, near Paso Robles for a few days.

From Camp Roberts, we toured the wine country, tasted & bought some local varieties, and made a trip to Cambria and Morro Bay for the day. Leaving the wine country, we headed north on Highway 101 for a night in Gilroy, the garlic capital of the world and an obilgatory trip to the San Martin Camping World store. We left Gilroy at 0730 on Sunday morning to beat the traffic though the San Francisco and Oakland area, and are currently in Willits, a small town at the south end of redwood country. Tomorrow we're off again, this time to Klamath, a very small town (pop 600) on the Klamath River in the heart of redwood country where we'll spend a week or so exploring. Until then, thanks for checking on us & keep in touch!

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