Our plan to visit more of the East Bay Regional Parks fizzled the day it began. On April 8, 2022, we selected the Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve for our first visit. Since the green hills near us had already begun their fade to gold, we knew the wildflowers wouldn’t last much longer in the eastern part of Contra Costa County.
We started out on the Atlas Mine trail until we encountered a closed sign, then transitioned to the Chaparral Trail. A few days earlier, I had watched a video about the wildflowers on the Chaparral Trail and anticipated all the wildflowers I’d be able to capture with the camera.
Up two short inclines and a walk through an overgrown area, until we hit a clearing where I stopped to take photos. Then Jon realized he had dropped the map. I offered to navigate the inclines again to retrieve said map. Sandstone isn’t my favorite medium to hike on, so I was proud I made it down and back up the steep inclines, not just once, but twice without sliding.
With the map retrieved, we continued on a maintenance and fire road, also graded from sandstone. I found another patch of flowers to capture with the camera and squatted to get a closer view. With the picture taken and the camera turned off, I stood, then landed on my butt.
Pain gripped my right hand and wrist. My Lamaze breathing techniques kicked in. Between breaths, I prayed for a sprain and not a break. I didn’t want to look, I couldn’t look, I had to look.
A quick look revealed my right hand misaligned with the arm. Not a sprain. Dizziness and shaking left me sitting in place for several minutes until I could recover and stand. My camera and strap served as a handy sling and kept the pain at bay.
Luckily, we hadn’t gone more than a 1/3 mile from our car. Off we drove to urgent care where X-rays confirmed the damage and need for surgery. Our plans to visit the East Bay Parks or traveling in our RV ended that day, a disappointment we are only recently getting over.
I’m sure it’s easy to guess that having my dominant arm immobilized limited what I can do. Jon has been the perfect caregiver helping me whenever I couldn’t do something on my own, carting me to doctor appointments and other outings, and taking over all the household chores.
On Thursday, July 7, three months later and two months after surgery, the doctor released me from any splint, cast, or brace. Now I’m looking at several months, if not a year, of slow incremental progress until my mobility returns to what it was before.
So, there you have it. A bad break sidelined the Traveling Todds and kept us from enjoying our passion for poking around this great nation of ours. We are so looking forward to packing up and hitting the road in a few weeks, after a few PT appointments and assuming no other obstacles crop up.
Thank goodness I could trade my cast for a brace, and we didn’t have to cancel our trip to Kauai with the family. It was a trip we had originally booked for April 2020 and rescheduled for early June 2022.
Stay tuned for a post or two, or more, about our Hawaii trip.
Updated July 14, 2022: corrected date from June 7 to July 7
Anthony Chabot Family Campground was our destination on March 20, 2022, only 22 miles away, to explore another East Bay Regional Park District (EBRPD) property. We arrived early for our four-night stay, set up, and went for a walk.
The campground, set in a grove of eucalyptus trees, includes 12 full hookup sites, 53 drive-up sites that can accommodate tents and smaller RVs, and 10 walk-in sites. All the sites have plenty of space between them and are large enough for a party of eight. We found site 5 to be the best for us since it was one of only two pull-through sites in the RV section, and on the patio side, it looked out over the grassy grove of tall trees that sloped down into a valley.
Animals in the park include coyotes who howl late at night and early in the morning. Bevys of doves that hid in the grass and scared us when they took flight in mass, calling out warnings to their family and friends. Turkey gobbles echoed through the trees and hills. On one walk, we saw two toms, their tail feathers fanned out, arguing with each other, and doing breast bumps like football players do on the field. Not sure where their harem of hens was hiding. Usually, we see turkey flocks sticking together with one tom guarding his harem, jakes, and poults.
Signs warn of mountain lions and rattlesnakes. They didn’t worry us because we stuck to the main roads and trails where more people were around making noise. I figured the mountain lions preferred the turkeys as easier prey. Of course, I sure wouldn’t want to tango with a tom in protective mode.
On the flora side, warnings include poison oak. New green shoots poked through the ground and fall-colored leaves still clung to older shrubs.
Anthony Chabot Regional Park
The 3,304-acre Anthony Chabot Regional Park opened in 1952 as Grass Valley Regional Park. As noted in the park’s brochure, the park was renamed in 1965 to honor Anthony Chabot, who built the first public water system in San Francisco and Oakland. Lake Chabot, designed by Anthony Chabot and built in 1874, was added to the Regional Park system in 1966.
The reservoir provides an emergency water source for east bay communities. Combined, the Anthony Chabot and Lake Chabot parks total 5,059 acres and sit within the ancestral home of Jalquin, an Ohlone- and Bay Miwok-speaking tribe.
Spanish settlers and Franciscans came to the San Francisco Bay Area in the 1700s. In the 1800s gold-seeking miners, loggers, and trains arrived. Before all of those people came, some estimates place a group of 10,000 to 20,000 indigenous people in the Bay Area, possibly dating back to 6,000 years ago. Scattered near the water, across the valleys, in the hills, and inland, the small tribes of hunters and gatherers lived off the land and sea.
By the early 1900s, diseases had caused a severe drop in the population of Ohlone- and Miwok-speaking people. In addition, many of the tribes from the Contra Costa and Alameda counties lost out on Federal funding and land for their people.
Reinhardt Redwood Regional Park
The park district renamed the Redwood Regional Park to Reinhardt Redwood Regional Park in 2019 in honor of Dr. Aurelia Henry Reinhardt. Dr. Reinhardt was one of the first five directors on the District’s Board in 1934. Her contributions included the preservation of redwoods and public open space.
We parked near the Fishway Interpretive Site, which sounded interesting when I saw it on the map. A pair of information panels detail the life cycle of the native trout that spawn in the creek and live in the Upper San Leandro Reservoir.
California Registered Historical Landmark No. 970 plaque placed on April 29, 1987, marks the place where three fish taken from the creek in 1855 led to the naming of the rainbow trout species. The assigned scientific name is noted as salmo iridia rainbow trout.
After reading about the life cycle of the trout, we crossed a stone bridge to Bridle Trail and made a loop for about 2-1/2 miles. Parallel to the Bridle Trail is the Stream Trail that spans from one end of the park to the other. In addition, the Anza Historic Trail, Skyline National Trail, and Bay Area Ridge Trail pass through the 1,833-acre park, which opened in 1939.
Our hike meandered through a redwood forest of third-generation growth. Giant redwoods once stood there, probably for one or two thousand years or more. By the mid-1860s, loggers had felled most of the magnificent trees, often taking the stumps as well. The redwood groves destroyed became the wood used to build homes and businesses in the San Francisco Bay Area.
The trees that populate the forest today grew in clusters from any stumps left behind. It’s easy to spot where the giants once stood, just look for the circle of trees surrounding a hole.
Work is in progress to restore Redwood Creek the rainbow trout to migrate. The park district placed fence barriers along the creek to protect the ponds and banks from damage caused by people and dogs.
Research on this post left me burdened with sadness as I read about the loss of the magnificent Redwood trees and the indigenous people. The devastation caused by selfishness, greed, and power in the name of progress is a common story that spans all the states we have visited. No matter how many times I read similar stories, I’ll always weep.
On the bright side, we also learn of the people who stepped up to say, “No more,” and worked tirelessly to preserve and restore what had previously come to disastrous results. So, we give thanks to the East Bay Regional Park District, their employees, and volunteers as they carry on the mission set forth in the 1934 ballot measure that created the district. May they continue to save more land for recreational purposes so we may immerse ourselves in nature, away from the noise and chaos of the cities and suburbs.
Long-term travel is out of the question for us for the next two months as we await our Hawaii trip in early June. In the meantime, we hope to visit more parks within the East Bay Regional Park District and other locations while we keep our adventures close to home. We’ll publish a post now and then as we do.
Most people drive past the City of Barstow on I-15 to or from Las Vegas, or I-40 to or from the Colorado River, or points beyond. So intent on their destination, they don’t even think of what hides behind the sound walls. Like many towns along Route 66, it’s a place to stop and explore. To avoid a 9 or 10-hour drive from Lake Havasu to our home in Pleasanton, we chose Barstow as a waypoint stop, extending our stay to two nights instead of our normal one. Here are just a few of the places to visit in the area.
Calico Ghost Town Regional Park
Although we had brought our kids to Calico years ago, we wanted to see what might have changed over the years. As usual when we visit a place we haven’t been to for a while, the only things we could remember were the western-style buildings.
Calico got its start as a silver-mining district in 1881. With over 500 mines working in the area from 1881 to 1907, Calico produced $86 million in silver and $45 million in borax, or thereabout. Different sources quoted different amounts. The population grew to 1,200 with 22 saloons, a China Town, and a red-light district. When a drop in silver prices from $1.31 an ounce to $0.63 in the mid-1890s, the mining stopped, the population dwindled, and Calico entered its ghost town stage.
Walter Knott—who founded Knott’s Berry Farm in the 1940s—purchased Calico in the 1950s and saved it from further destruction. He restored five of the original buildings to look as they did in the 1880s and made additional improvements, then donated the town in 1966 to San Bernardino County. Arnold Schwarzenegger later proclaimed Calico as California’s Silver Rush Ghost town.
Kids and adults have fun panning for gold, touring the Maggie Mine, taking a scenic ride on the Calico/Odessa Railroad, peaking through the windows of the 1880s replica schoolhouse, and posing for an old-time photo.
Shoppers can wind their way up the hill and visit a variety of shops along the way, including shops selling western-style clothing, crafts, rocks and minerals, housewares, maps and books, and so much more.
Even Fido has his own store, the Dorsey’s Dog House. They cater to man’s furry friends, selling treats and accessories. And if you need a place to stay, there are full hookups and off-highway camping available, including restrooms and showers.
There’s no need to pack a lunch for your visit. Calico House Restaurant serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. For beverages—alcoholic and non—pizza, baked potatoes, hot dogs, and nachos check out Lil’s Saloon. If deli sandwiches are more to your taste, belly up at Old Miner’s Café.
Be sure to stop at the Lane House and Museum to learn about the First Lady of Calico. Lucy Bell arrived at the height of the silver boom in 1884 when she was 10 years old. She spent her high school years split between Calico and Pomona and later married John Robert Lane, the water superintendent at Calico, in 1893.
They operated a general store and made their home in Calico, staying through the mid-1890s. As the miners left town, they left their claims as payment for what they owed the store. Occasionally, the Lanes left Calico to work in other mining camps, but once they made money from a quicksilver mine, they returned to Calico and fixed up their home and store. After John’s death in 1934, Lucy stayed on in Calico, spending her winters with family. She lived in the same house until her death in 1967 at the age of 93.
Peggy Sue’s 50’s Diner
After our walk around Calico, we drove across Interstate 10 to Peggy Sue’s Diner for lunch. Built in 1954, the original portion of the diner was made from railroad ties and mortar from the Union Pacific Rail Yard. It included 9 stools and 3 booths.
The owners, Champ and Peggy Sue, reopened the diner in 1987 to restore and preserve it and to have a place to display their movie and TV memorabilia. Then came the expansions that added space to accommodate an increase in business, a 5 and dime store, soda fountain, ice cream parlor, and pizza parlor. Later, they created Diner-saur Park with trees, dinosaur sculptures, ponds, and walking paths. Drivers will appreciate taking a break from the hustle and bustle of the freeway traffic and kids will enjoy getting their wiggles out at Peggy Sue’s.
Casa Del Desierto Historic Harvey House
Our next stop was Casa Del Desierto Historic Harvey House. Designed by Mary Colter in a Santa Fe style and originally built between 1910 to 1913, this restored building once housed the Harvey Hotel and Restaurant and the Santa Fe Railroad depot. It was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1975 and is owned and operated by the City of Barstow.
Housed in parts of the building are the Western America Railroad Museum and the Route 66 Mother Road Museum.
Western America Railroad Museum
Displayed next to the parking lot are several rail cars, engines, and various railroad equipment, artifacts, and memorabilia. The room containing the “date nails” fascinated me. There are so many of them. What were they? What did they mean? The nails were used to tag the railroad ties with the date of their installation. The railroads discontinued using the nails in the 1970s, and they are now collector items.
Route 66 Mother Road Museum
Previously known as the National Old Trails Road, a newly numbered highway system renamed the road Route 66. The Mother Road, Main Street of America, and Will Rogers Highway are other names for Route 66. The museum held its grand opening on July 4, 2000. Come for the displays and collections of historic photographs and artifacts; buy souvenirs, gifts, Route 66 clothing, and other items at the gift store; and leave with a bit of nostalgia in your heart.
Other places to see in and around Barstow include:
Mojave River Valley Museum
The Calico Early Man Site—shown as permanently closed on Google, but who knows, perhaps it will reopen someday
Hike or four-wheel through Rainbow Basin Natural Area
Visit the NASA Goldstone Visitor Center (once it reopens)
See the second-largest meteorite weighing 6,070 pounds discovered in 1975 at the Desert Discovery Center
Or walk around Main Street and snap photos of the murals
And for people who have cash or a credit card burning a hole in their pocket or purse, there’s always the Outlets at Barstow
We may need another few days of exploring in Barstow the next time we’re driving that way.
This concludes our 2022 Fall Tour. We’ll be back next time with a few close-to-home visits near our home.
Lake Havasu City, Arizona, was our destination on November 5, 2021. We hadn’t seen my sister, Merri, since November 2019, four months before the world shut down to ward off a nasty virus. On the way, we stopped for a break at a spot large enough for our rig somewhere in the desert north of Desert Center on Rice Road, State Route 177. We lingered a while to take in the view of the red hills across the road.
Our usual RV Park of choice is Prospectors RV Resort, when we visit Lake Havasu. This time we tried Campbell Cove. At our site across from the office, trees shaded the driver’s side of our fifth wheel. And no one pulled in beside us. Although the sites were smaller than the ones at Prospectors, being closer to town was more convenient.
Breakfast at the Red Onion is a must, so we met Merri there the next day. After our meal, I noticed the London Bridge Mural on the building across the parking lot. “Hey,” I said. “Let’s take a selfie?” The series of photos below will give you an idea of how many boomers it takes to create a selfie.
We featured our visit to The Bunker Bar in our November 11, 2021, blog post, so here, I’ll just compare what the place looked like while under construction in November 2019 and what it looked like two years later. If interested in reading more about the bar and watching a 360 degree video, go here.
What could be better than sitting with family on The Blue Chair—now just called The Chair—patio overlooking the London Bridge, eating lunch, and listening to live music? The afternoon could not have been more perfect with a great view, great food, great music, and great family fun.
I wish I had photographic evidence of Jon, Merri, and me paddle boarding for our first time. None of us wanted to risk dropping our phones in the water, and I sure didn’t want to drop my Sony A6500 camera. Nautical Watersports hooked us up with boards, paddles, and life vests and set us loose in the little cove a few steps from the store. The no-wake location was the perfect place for our maiden attempt at balancing on a board and paddling about.
Merri, the youngest of us, popped up on her board first. I started out on my knees and graduated to a squatting position before my shaky legs straightened enough to stand. Then presto, magic. My legs stopped shaking. It took Jon a while to stand, and he said his legs never stopped shaking. Next time, we’ll do better. Can’t wait for warm weather to return so I can try paddle boarding again.
On our final day, we fit in a short hike at Mesquite Bay to enjoy the views of the Havasu National Wildlife Refuge, to get a bit of exercise, and take in the views. Mesquite Bay 1 and 2 both have parking, fishing piers, and informational panels, and shelters. Non-motorized watercraft only are allowed in Mesquite Bay.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt established Havasu Lake National Wildlife Refuge (current name Havasu National Wildlife Refuge) in 1941, to establish a migratory bird habitat. The refuge encompasses 37,515 acres along the Colorado River and protects 40 river miles and 300 miles of shoreline from Needles, California, to Lake Havasu City, Arizona.
Hundreds of birds find the refuge a place to stop, rest, and refuel during their migratory journey each year. And like the human “snowbirds” that roll into town in their RVs, many of the fowl spend the winter and some even breed in the area.
Sadly, our visit to Lake Havasu came to a close, and it was time to move on. But I’m positive this won’t be our last trip to Lake Havasu City.
Next up: Barstow, California, where we check out Calico Ghost Town Regional Park, Peggy Sue’s Restaurant, Barstow Railroad Museum, the historic Harvey House, and Route 66 Mother Road Museum.