Fall 2021 Tour Episode 5: Riverside, California

Kudzu Swamp Monster in California?

We settled in at Rancho Jurupa RV Park on October 31, 2021, snagging the same site we used during our visit last year. After an early dinner, we walked to the camp store. Since we hadn’t eaten lunch, we splurged for desert with Haagen-Dazs coffee ice cream bars covered with dark chocolate and almonds. Yum. Yum. One of my favorites.

This is not one of the two fishing lakes at Rancho Jurupa Regional Park

The next day, we met Jon’s brother, Lee, at Vince’s Spaghetti for another early dinner. Every trip to the area, we always go to Vince’s for dinner. It was our go-to place for a Friday night out with the kids when we lived in Rialto. As I type this, my mouth waters for the iceberg lettuce salad with Italian dressing, the minestrone soup, garlic and cheese bread, and the mound of pasta smothered in meat sauce. Oh, and don’t forget the box of Junior Mints on the way out the door.

Vince’s Spaghetti on Holt in Ontario amid auto sales and service enterprises

Opened in 1945, the original location on Holt in Ontario is still going strong and still family owned. They also have locations in Rancho Cucamonga and Temecula.

The next day we headed out on a reminiscent tour, starting with breakfast at Cracker Barrel, where the Rialto Municipal Airport used to be. It was strange seeing how much the area had changed in the past 20 years, from open fields and old groves to housing developments and commercial buildings.

We drove by homes where I lived as a child and the two homes Jon and I owned before moving to Northern California. The Rialto Ave house I lived in until I was 7 looked the best. The garage conversion and driveway looked natural. Fresh paint and a well-designed landscaping completed the look.

Coming in second was our first home on Elm Court, which looked well cared for. Where I lived on Cascade from age 7 until I left at 18 needed paint and landscaping. The Orange house, the last one we owned in town, was the worst. We stopped to say hello to one of our neighbors, and she said the people who bought the house from us have done nothing since they moved in. Our house and backyard had been so inviting. Now peeling paint, wood rot, an unkempt lawn, and the twenty-some-odd rose bushes someone had ripped out showed the lack of care. So sad.

The town itself, we thought, was in better condition than when we had moved away. The occupied business buildings and street improvements downtown made a big difference from what we remembered.

This building housed Bert’s Food Market downstairs, until it closed, and my daughter’s dance studio upstairs in the 1980s and early 1990s.

Then we drove out to San Bernardino. The Central City Mall opened in October 1972 and did away with most of the historic downtown. Other amenities, including a monorail, never materialized, and it wasn’t long after the mall’s opening that local gangs claimed it as their hangout. Conditions continued to plague the mall and the surrounding area even after ownership changes and a 1991 renovation. Anchor stores closed in the early 2000s and the mall finally closed in 2017.

The McDonald’s Museum turned out to be the bright spot to an otherwise depressing trip to San Bernardino. It’s not an official corporate McDonald’s Museum. But the site is where brothers Richard and Maurice McDonald started business in 1940 as McDonald’s Barbecue Restaurant at 14th and E Streets. My mother, who had lived a few blocks away in her teens, told me she and her friends had hung out there. Inside is a treasure trove of all things McDonalds through the ages, many of which have been donated.

Unofficial McDonald’s Museum
Kitchen items and red and white tile chunks

The McDonalds—with an eye on speedy service, a simple menu, and low prices—changed course in 1948 by converting their restaurant into a fast-food enterprise selling hamburgers, fries, milkshakes, and sodas.

Props autographed by the cast of the movie The Founder starring Michael Keaton as Ray Kroc.
Minions promoted at McDonald’s in 2015

The original building had long since been demolished, and the property was in foreclosure when Albert Okura, owner and CEO of the Juan Pollo restaurants, purchased it in 1998. He later opened the unofficial McDonald’s Museum where he preserves artifacts and memorabilia related to the landmark and honors the McDonalds for their contribution to the food industry.

1970s era high chair
Cookie Jar?

The brother’s innovative approach caught Ray Kroc’s attention. He offered to work as a franchising agent for them and in 1955, he founded McDonald’s System, Inc. The company’s first franchise restaurant opened in Des Plaines, Illinois. Four years later, restaurant No. 100 had opened and in 1961, Kroc purchased the company from the McDonald brothers.

The Hamburglar display
Brothers Richard and Maurice McDonald featured near the entrance.
Recreated McDonald’s Sign

On the side of the building, a colorful mural depicts historical sites and businesses around the Inland Empire. Jon and I had fun picking out all the places we remembered from our childhoods and teen years.

Take a trip down memory lane while viewing this colorful mural.
Sky Park At Santa’s Village, Arrowhead Springs, and Original McDonald’s Hamburgers are featured in this panel.

After seeing much of what we remembered of San Bernardino destroyed, decayed, or remaining the same, we were glad to see a small part of it preserved. Our thanks go out to Albert Okura for having the foresight to create a museum and save a little piece of what once made San Bernardino great along Route 66. The museum is free but asks for a donation to enter.

After visiting the museum, we searched for a place to eat. Not finding anything along the way, I had Jon stop so I could take photos of the Wigwam Motel. They looked the best I ever remembered and are a good example of the many places spruced up along Route 66 for tourists to experience.

Route 66 Wigwam Motel in San Bernardino, California, on the border next to Rialto never looked so good.
Wigwam Motel with lush landscaping

We ended our day at Cuca’s in Rialto for margaritas and Mexican food. The friendly staff made us feel welcome, and we enjoyed sitting in another piece of history: the old Rialto train station, where the sliding doors still hang in place and still work. Over margaritas, chips and salsa, and our meals, we discussed all we had seen that day and were pleased we had encountered a few bright spots along the way.

Cuca’s Mexican Food
Our server told us these are the original railroad station barn doors

Next up: Another trip to Lake Havasu City to see my sister, her daughter, and granddaughter.

Safe Travels

Riverside, California, Mt. Rubidoux, and Tio’s Tacos

Gale force winds woke us early on February 10, 2020. Driving during a wind warning is not our idea of fun, but it was moving day. We had reservations at Rancho Jurupa Regional Park and Campground for four nights, so we packed up and headed out.

Spot 213

We were glad we tried this park. The spaces were wide, surrounded by green grass, and quiet. Instead of a noisy freeway like we had in San Diego, we heard birds singing in the trees and small aircraft flying overhead. I think this park is going to become our place to stay when visiting the Inland Empire in the future.

Crane scouting for food

The park includes two fishing lakes, cabins, and unobstructed views of the sunset and Mt. Rubidoux each evening. And the gnarly tree limbs were perfect subjects to photograph.

“Walk away, then. I’ll wait here.”

Perfect place for a barbecue and picnic near the lake

Mud hens having fun

Playground for the little ones

A trail to where

Horse and rider

Line of trees leads to Mt. Rubidoux

Goodbye sun

Our friends Suzie and Dan Bloomer came to visit one day, so we drove over to Mt. Rubidoux to get a good view of the valley from the top of the mountain. There is an easy trail and a steeper trail. We chose the easy trail up and came down the steeper trail.

Prickly pear garden

The Peace Tower and Friendship Bridge is a popular landmark built in 1925 to honor Frank A. Miller for his vision of the mountain and his ideals of International Friendship and World Peace.

Peace Tower and Friendship Bridge—the guy in the red shirt under the bridge is Dan

The cross and tablet at the summit was erected in 1907 to honor Father Junipero Serra who is thought to have traveled through the valley and rested at Rubidoux Rancho. Americans United for Separation of Church and State objected to the cross on city property and threatened a lawsuit to have it removed. To avoid the legal tussle, a group formed to raise money to purchase the top of the mountain and the .43 acres beneath it. They raised enough money to purchase the land and provide an endowment, the interest from which is used to manage and maintain the property.

Cross at the top of the mountain

Sunrise services have been held on Easter at the top of the mountain since 1909. However, due to the California and local COVID-19 restrictions in place, the service has been canceled for April 12, 2020. The top of the mountain is also used for July 4 fireworks. Let’s hope and pray for lifted restrictions by then.

View northwest from Mt. Rubidoux

View south from Mt. Rubidoux

View mostly east from Mt. Rubidoux with what I believe is the San Jacinto Mountains in the background

The trek up and down Mt. Rubidoux triggered hunger in our bellies so off to Tio’s Tacos for lunch. Opened in 1990, Tio’s has become another landmark in Riverside.

Tio’s Taco entrance

The owner, Martin Sanchez, is the creator of the funky art pieces that populate the half-acre of unique gardens. All of the pieces were created from recycled objects once relegated to the fate of landfills.

Dressed in plastic dolls

Roof acrobats

Suzie sprouted angel wings

Craft project: Shape a roll of chicken wire, fill it with plastic bottles, and presto change-o, a work of art

Mission bell, flags, and lights

We definitely want to come back and explore Riverside in more depth. We hear the Mission Inn went through a recent renovation, and I’d like to check out the mission-style architecture in the area.

Next up is Pismo Beach which was the last stop on our Winter 2020 tour.

Wishing everyone health and well being in these trying times as we hunker down the best we can and avoid traveling too far afield.

Stay safe