A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: Meike Carter

Tombstone, Arizona


View Summer Journey 19 on Meike Carter's travel map.

The wild wild West IMG_20190608_082639_938.jpg
We drove our 40' motorhome right through Tombstone where we found a big RV parking lot by the courthouse. Thankfully the lot was empty and conveniently located only minutes away from all the stores and restaurants. We paid our $10 parking fee, strolled down the street where we were greeted by a cowboy advertising a gunfight in his saloon for $8 per person. We kindly declined and made our way towards the heart of Tombstone where more people advertised their gunfight for a price. I was honestly surprised that everything came with a price tag including the little corner museum and the courthouse. 0054362BC8719BED1E62A8D70001DCB6.jpg
Four men clad in black wearing hats walked out of the saloon. Their stride was impressive, reminding me of all the old Western movies I have seen as a kid. I literally froze, hoping for a good photo opportunity and got it. 005641DBB81D381DE9CC6BEE7AECCF2E.jpg
What really sent me back in time were the conversations with the locals, who shared tons of stories with us. This place either invites or rejects you, they say. Due to the wild and dark past Tombstone carries , it is obvious that some of its past residents still roam around. We entered massive double doors into Big Nose Kate's, a lively restaurant which used to be the Grand Hotel in 1880s. All walls were covered with picture frames of late residents and prominent people who have visited over the years. Just looking at all the memorabilia was close to a visit to the museum. 90_00559565DF16FD021796CABD779D1879.jpg 0054EFFBF39EE3DFC9B79A8009592812.jpg In the middle of the restaurant was a staircase that led to the basement. Curious we had to figure out what laid beneath the old Grand Hotel. A set of wooden swing doors opened into the once famous saloon. The solid wooden bar, whiskey barrels and the antique mirror are still untouched, just how it was when Doc Holliday came down here for a drink. The result of cowboys getting rowdy after a few too many shots, where a couple of bullet holes as a reminder of the days in the wild West. Today it is a little boutique, selling corsages, feather boas, garter belts and hats. We talked to the lady that works in the small windowless shop in the basement , who rattled of one ghostly encounter after another since she has been working there. Most help wouldn't come back the second day to work, too spooked out. This lady here is used to her little visitors and I could definitely feel some presence in the basement, while we listened to her stories. Occasionally I had to turn around, feeling the hair on my neck standing up or getting the chills. In the corner of that room is a tiny space that used to be the groundskeepers quarters. The original bed and furniture still stands there. Only a couple of feet away from the foot of the bed is a deep tunnel about 120 feet long, dug by the groundskeeper to steal silver from the nearby mine. Once he was caught stealing, they shot him dead underneath the lobby of the Grand Hotel. Occasionally a lady will appear urging the staff to hang themselves in the little fitting room. No wonder nobody wants to work there. We were glad to leave the basement, climbed the stairs back up and grabbed a table by the stained glass window for lunch. Halfway through my meal something poked me on my left side in the ribs. I jumped and dropped my food. Tony and Landon were sitting across from me and gave me a puzzled look. Nobody stood behind me- now I was really freaked out.
We told the waitress what happened and she laughed, saying she gets touched all the time. Welcome to Big Nose Kate's where you might get messed with while dining. 90_0059E02EDF8083BB38BF75D957260748.jpg
We were advised to stop by the birdcage to listen in on the history of that particular hotspot. Men from all over flocked to the bordello, keeping the girls extremely busy working sometimes up to 70 men per day. A little graveyard is right off the side of the building, home to many unwanted babies conceived during work hours. A few bullet holes can be seen in the bar and the opposing wall. One bullet hit the massive painting of a naked woman positioned just right to rename the painting to- the third nipple. One can only imagine how crazy the birdcage must have been. 90_00539AC9A2C103691ACAADC06DA162D7.jpg 0056DCEFD5D217E71596CCBC07EEC907.jpg 0057A3B0CCAE6D03101136F772410CD9.jpg 20190607_103636.jpg

Posted by Meike Carter 10:57 Comments (0)

Tucson Arizona

7202F13ED48669F66EDC5A11B7D7344F.jpg After six months in California and many stops along the way, (visiting several National and State parks ) we spent our last night at Salton Sea State Park before crossing into Arizona. 71F323250AD23706EC5347EC975AECD9.jpg Unfortunately I cannot really say much about Salton Sea. It definitely looks prettier from a distance, especially when you come from the desert, but the smell and the dried up hard cracked salty layer of what is supposed to be beach is quite a bummer. 71F3DA36D0BB97AB1209FDDD84541926.jpg The full hookup sites for the RV where located in the parking lot, which surprised me as well. We wondered why we were the only campers there at first. But upon setting up, getting into our bathing suits, walking across the big asphalt parking lot and across a wide area of dried salt and seashells we realized why. The smell was awful and the lime green brew that stood stagnant did not look inviting. As hot as we were we returned back to our asphalt lot , took a cool shower in the RV instead. I'm not sure if we arrived during a bad time of year or if that State Park is always so stinky and deserted. I asked the gentleman at the visitor center about the history of this lake and he explained that it is California's biggest lake caused by breaking of levees. A Navy base was established during WW2, which is located to the south of Salton Sea and was used as a missile and nuclear weapon test site. Maybe that's what kept us from going into the water. At least we gave it a try , slept in the parking lot and rolled out bright and early the next morning. 71F29A9AAA38E75055EE230018920871.jpg
We were really looking forward to Tucson and decided to stay a few nights at David Mothan AFB famcamp. Over 300 sites are available, several bath houses , a pet wash station, laundry facility and little club house. It was nice to take care of some errands around here. Unfortunately one night while boondocking only minutes from the Mexican border the wind was really strong, causing the vent cover in the bathroom to fly away while I was sitting on the commode. Thankfully a trip to Camping World in Tuscon took care of that problem and we bought enough vent covers to replace all of them. Tony also had to take our tow vehicle to the Car craft center on post to work on the brakes, while I took care of the laundry and groceries. I cleaned the RV pretty good after driving thru the desert and parking in isolated areas for several days. Overall Tuscon was meant for us to relax, catch up on chores and lastly explore. We noticed how much the climate helped our skin, hair and breathing. Despite the heat I did not sweat and felt comfortable. That never happened before. Even while we hiked Saguaro NP in almost triple digits -no sign of sweat. We had a headache the first couple of days and hydrated nonstop, but once we got acclimatized we felt great. IMG_20190603_064428_434.jpg
Two places were on our list to see before continuing with our trip- Saguaro National Park and Tombstone.
Saguaro NP is split in two, which confused me at first. The west side of the park is located west of Tucson where you will pass Old Tucson, a really beautiful old historic place or you enter from I10 going East. We took the first route and really enjoyed the landscape, winding through the high desert. Beautiful Saguaros were scattered throughout, almost resembling people standing with their arms stretched out. 90_739222FECFA829BEC214214A0BE5F111.jpg 90_20190606_132601.jpg
This Saguaro seems to be holding a flower 7392C625969A1BED178DB085DA17862C.jpg
Several shaded areas are provided along the many trails , and a water refill station is located by the visitor center. A trip to this wonderful National Park is a must when you visit Tucson. 7391668CA67282534B2BC92BF3B7F218.jpg 90_7390CCCADAB666D2B04AF733C7317A5D.jpg

Posted by Meike Carter 17:21 Comments (0)

Joshua Tree National Park

After a couple of days in Sequoia we prepared for a long day of driving. Everything takes longer when you drive a coach through the state of California, since the speed limit is 55 for big rigs. We passed nothing but farmland along the foothills of the Sierra Nevadas. Almond, Orange and Lemon groves spread throughout the countryside as far as the eye can see. Once we entered Angeles National Forest the drive got tougher, trying to maneuver the RV up and down the mountain range. Several 18wheelers had to pull over due to overheating. We took it nice and steady and scooted towards Los Angeles, where we were welcomed by a thick yellowish grayish layer of Smog. The radio stations in that area were awesome, which helped to keep me energized in such heavy traffic
I was certainly relieved to leave all the heavy populated areas behind. We stopped along the way and stocked up with groceries for our upcoming night in the desert. 695AF5DEDAB6A089F59D3ABF31FD2AE1.jpg After 8 hours on the road we arrived in Joshua Tree and followed the last couple of miles down a dirt road to BLM land. We might have seen 10 other campers altogether doing the same thing. Camping on Government land is free and usually in isolated areas, but this particular spot was surprisingly close to the main road of Joshua Tree, where anything you desire is only minutes away. It honestly felt as if we were in the middle of nowhere, yet close to everything should you need it while boondocking, which was comforting to me. We had a very relaxing afternoon and watched the sun paint the desert into amber, bronze and golden tones. 695A5BFEB951452D85C59BFE373B5608.jpg 6959958A92233DC037C72B4432A55416.jpg
We tried not to use the generator at first, opened all windows and vents , spread out on the couch and melted away. The temperature reached 86 inside the rig within minutes after setting up, which led us to turn on the generator. The internet connection was surprisingly strong and we opted to watch some Netflix to help us unwind for the night. 9858DA16C91FD3566CE52AC20B6A479E.jpg
We got up at the crack of dawn, enjoyed our coffee with a view and packed up to enter Joshua Tree National Park the second it opened. At the visitor center we asked if it is possible to drive a 40 ft RV with a tow vehicle through the park and were advised not too. We did it anyway ,because the exit of the park leads to Interstate 10, which ties us right in with our travel route. Had we listened to the Ranger, we would have had to turn back around to get our RV adding 2 additional hours to the already 2 hour trip. Tony had no problem driving the rig and countless turn offs allowed for us to let faster vehicles pass. 985818B4BE77C900993030CF04A7F164.jpg
I hope this information will be helpful to anyone trying to save some travel time. 98577CA404E03A8FCEA9F0386AC3A36B.jpg 9856CA599746212B01DC105B80D26882.jpg 985621ECF2391EB0AE388BEFCC57CB8E.jpg 20190531_105036.jpg
We did not hike at Joshua Tree, for the simple reason that it looked very similar to the area we lived in for a couple of years, which is the high desert around Barstow CA. The park offers several trails in case you are interested to explore and get a good exercise. We were ready to get to Salton Sea early enough to spend some time on the beach and cool off. Until then...happy travels! IMG_20190531_145940_853.jpg

Posted by Meike Carter 11:10 Comments (0)

Sequoia National Park

We were ready to continue our trip and head further south along the Sierra Nevadas . During the 5 night stay at Eastman lake the weather changed daily. It started off in the mid 70s & cloudy but ending with a beautiful sunset,
followed by a hot sunny day in the 90s where we cooked out and got a nice tan. The next morning we woke up to much cooler temperatures, but we packed our rucksack ready to hike Yosemite anyway, which is about an hour drive from camp. The weather changed once we approached higher elevation and the closer we drove towards Yosemite NP the worse it got. We stopped in Oakhurst where a Winterstorm advisory was blinking in orange letters on the road sign . A couple of roads to the park where closed due to weather and we pulled over to make the decision, if it was a bad move to continue without snow chains. Just the short walk from the truck to the grocery store was reason enough to decide against it and go back to camp. It was raining, 42 degrees and we did not wear the right gear. Unfortunately we were not prepared for that hike , got groceries instead and drove back to a much warmer climate . We were crossing our fingers that Sequoia would be a better pick which is 2 hours further South. Upon arrival at Sequoia Ranch RV park it was still chilly and cloudy, but miraculously once we set up camp the sky opened up it got hot quick. We were told in the office that this was the first glimpse of summer this season. Looks like we arrived on the right day. I really didn't want to skip that park. We had a shaded side by the Creek, sat up chairs and dipped our toes into ice cold mountain water. 2847C2960DAF724ACD2D6D717460A35B.jpg 28471FF9AD144913FC9B5C16A34DBA6D.jpg
Sequoia RV Ranch is only minutes away from the park entrance and worth the $55 per night. I washed all the clothes and took advantage of full hookup. In order to enter Sequoia NP you have to pay a fee of $30 per vehicle unless you have an all access card. It takes about an hour of driving up very steep and winding roads before you reach the giant redwoods. Along the way are several spots where you can stop and enjoy the scenery. 8997.jpeg We noticed a secluded waterfall and had to pull of the road to goof around on the slippery rocks. IMG_20190601_071527_503.jpg
We saw some Class C RV'S making the trip up the mountain with a 32' length restriction. You definitely cannot bring your Motorhome up to the Sequoias. 2846533BE6B251342DC5BB37BC71996F.jpg
By the time we reached over 6000 feet we saw the famous redwoods and actually oohed and aaahed, trying to spot the biggest one. Now we couldn't wait to see the General Sherman. 28446053D6EFC59645948294F8BE7688.jpg 90_20190529_150913.jpg
But first we hiked Moro Rock 284500C0C605E2CD02C90D55EE0ECB85.jpg
Yes, that one...
The view was amazing from up there. 2845BFA5D8E7E039969E6B67F7BC936E.jpg
The air is definitely thinner up there and we had to take our time climbing up all the stairs.
Another must-do is driving through the log tunnel... 2843A21EF1AE6178CB9123820F25E8B0.jpg
Finally we made it to the tallest tree on earth. Too bad I can't fit him entirely into the frame. 2926FF74ACE6535F4A72875F94F296A6.jpeg 8989.jpeg 8987.jpeg

Posted by Meike Carter 07:24 Comments (0)

Eastman Lake, CA

Happy Memorial Day weekend! 6D6B7F8DACCAAAE8C84916F6F635F31D.jpg
After being stationary since December and attending college in San Francisco, we are back on the road. The past 2 months couldn't pass quick enough for us. Besides the school work load and the consistent rain, we dealt with one health issue after another. Thankfully we are back in shape and thrilled to have the freedom to travel as we please. Landon is still enrolled with CA virtual Academy and will finish the last week as we travel. I already returned all his books to K12 and notified the administration of our possible move to Texas. We might be back in California next year, but we do not plan that far in advance and prefer to dis enroll our almost 5th grader and keep our options open. We are considering to send him to regular school for one semester just to mingle and get acquainted with students and teachers. But until then, we will take our time and visit as many interesting places as possible. Our first stop is outside of Yosemite NP at an Army Corps of Engineers campground in Raymond CA. 20190525_153709.jpg
We checked on the Allstay website for ACOE campgrounds and casinos along the way. You can stay for free at casinos or pay a very small fee at an ACOE campground usually located by a body of water. 20190525_153608.jpg 20190525_152814.jpg
We opted to check out the campground and lucked out with a fantastic site overlooking the lake. Our site comes with water, electric, fire ring, sheltered picnic table, outside grill and a concrete patio. With our Access card we only pay $15 per night. This site happened to be available throughout Memorial Day weekend and we booked it immediately upon arrival. 6D6CD1EAE217E6BC1F3608C14B7CF49D.jpg 6D6C25BDB650B6EF6CC9DE3F6A62624F.jpg
It didn't take us long to set up camp, had an easy dinner followed by a glass of wine and a spectacular sunset.

Posted by Meike Carter 16:36 Comments (1)

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