Took a short trip to enjoy the outdoors in early August. Some thoughts
Fresno’s road construction boondogle?? A road segment that seems to be a freeway interchange adjacent to the existing road (Hwy-99). Another theory about this after viewing the structure on the way back.
On the drive, radio interruption - emergency announcement: Flash flood warning in Tulare County. Really?? I was in the vicinity of Tulare county, and saw little sign of something ominous. Maybe something localized - no idea.
Gas prices. How much will HohumYNWA pay for gas during this trip? Almost full tank when I left home. So Fresno was a little early to fill up. $4.75/gal a couple of places along Hwy-99 in the Fresno area and vicinity. First fill-up in Arvin @ $5.59, but to $6.39/gal on higher grades.
Shortly after Arvin is the start of the Grapevine. But, the prelude to (or maybe, considered part of) the Grapevine is Tejon Ranch property
Tid-bits stuckin my head: Years ago, someone made a compelling case for Tejon Ranch as a buy & hold investment. Never made the jump, but it stuck in my head. Lots of warehouse space, outlet mall(s) and retail businesses. Looks like some residential is now also part of the area.
Grapevine: Stuff happens on this stretch of the road. Earlier in the week, I heard on the radio, the story of a major jewelry heist on the Grapevine. I had my own adventure on this trip. Why the heck is a blinking D showing while I’m driving up the Grapevine? Had me worried, but about 10-15 min later the flashing stopped, and shortly after traffic up the Grapevine slowed to a crawl. A few miles later, the cause revealed itself - broken down car in 2nd lane (keeping an eye on my own dashboard)
Once I hit the downward portion of Grapevine, I eased over to the right lanes. I wasn’t going to Los Angeles, so I was swapping I-5 for I-210.
Time-check: It is around 3:45 PM and I quickly find myself in commute traffic
Did not expect entire N-210 drive to be a 15-40 mph slog. Once I switched over to N-215, and subsequently the I-10, traffic moved a lot smoother, and I even managed a provisions stop at a great location - Vons grocery store adjacent to a Trader Joe’s From there, got back on the I-10 for about 12 miles, and exited in Banning, and headed up the mountains on Hwy-243 to my primary destination-
Thousand Trails Idyllwild (or TT Idyllwild)
One crazy driver on the edge of Banning decided to zoom by me at 70 mph. Silly, as almost no traffic, either direction, the first half of the drive up the mountain. First vehicle on the way up was a RV, and the driver pulled over to let me pass. Returned the favor about 5 or 6 miles later - pulled over to let someone pass me. Still light outside, and I have a fair idea on the distance to my destination. Waved downhill (to be explained shortly)
@ check-in, the ranger informs me that the camp site area with electrical has been reserved by a group host. He tells me about a couple of individual sites with electrical. I’m actually ok with the first area not being available, as it is mostly in a generally rocky area near some water body. I’m a tent camper and don’t require electrical gadgets for the camping portion. I inquite about the hill-top (or ridge), and he says “Yes, it is open”. Two prior stays, and “the ridge” is where I have always camped. I make my way to “the ridge” (or 800-series camp area) to pitch my tent. Another group have also arrived in the vicinity - we are 3rd and 4th area occupants (not completely a surprise to me for a Thursday evening). Predict there will be more campers tomorrow.
Improvements? Yes, the 800-area got its restroom facilities back - both toilet and shower facilities. Last year, the 800-area campers walked 200-400 ft to access a set of port-a-potties. This year, they walk 300-500 ft to access nicer facilities, including showers- Yay! After camp
set-up, I headed down to the location “heart-beat” - general store/lodge/cafe area
General store - about to close (9 PM on Th)
Lodge - closes between 9 - 9:30 PM Th
Cafe - Closed (Appears to have not been Open in 2022)
Outside the cafe is open air seating - picnic benches really. I said “heart beat” earlier - there were two working outlets, and a WAP (wireless access point) which means … Internet access. Well, it did last year. And, this year? Outlets still work and yes, I can get online - I’m good.
All about options - TT Idyllwild has a welcome center at the entrance. I’m guessing there is Internet access at that location too.
Restful night, with a short rain drizzle. But somewhat noisier air traffic in the early morning. Idyllwild (technically, Pine Cove) is otherwise a very relaxing place (for me). Hmm? My camp-site has three picnic benches, and a couple of neighboring sites don’t have any – Oh well (for now). Had breakfast and then headed down to the lodge. Online for a few hours, a short walk, and then back to camp for lunch. Its Friday, and as predicted, the 800-area started filling in. My site is the lowest of a three tier hill sites. A “neighbor” is setting up camp in the second tier. I walk up to the edge of their site and point out the picnic table imbalance, and suggest that one of the tables can be theirs. The offer was not declined. Friday, site occupancy jumped to 14 (of 16) sites. Saturday, it dropped by one.
Recall the wave dowhill (in #8). Y’all know who lives downhill, right? Well, plenty of people live “down the hill” from Idyllwild. But somewhere downhill in a particular direction lies the home of the Obamas (Palm Springs). Not that I was going to be able to visit the Obamas, but it would still be fun to visit the general area where a former president retired. HohumYNWA was in an adventurous mood/mode, so planned something slightly different - a loop.
Instead of going down Hwy-243 the way I had come up, and then picking up I-10 to Palm Springs, I did something different. I took Hwy-243 into Idyllwild, and kept going until the route merged with Hwy-74, and followed that road in a South-easterly direction. The first 5-6 miles, lots of scattered cabins and individual homes among a fair amount of trees and greenery. Then further along Hwy-74, fewer trees and more rocks, or barren land. The last 10 miles or so of Hwy-74, lots of twists and turns as the elevation drops a couple of thousand feet, and one ends on the edge of Palm Desert.
Palm Desert had some features that reminded me of Sedona. A few minutes later, I am mo longer in Palm Desert, but in Rancho Mirage. My first thought was … golf courses, and a few seconds later, I’m driving by a golf course Then some regular businesses, and a fairly unusual one (Bentley dealership), and entertainment names (Bob Hope, Frank Sinatra, etc) start showing up on street names. A few miles along, I come across a location I wasn’t expecting for a few miles. Somehow I had reached one destination (my directions had suggested a few more street changes prior to getting to the location) in Cathedral city.
After finding a parking spot, I walked to the entrance of Agua Caliente Casino - 106F at Casino entrance - couldn’t wait to get inside the hot
water This is very different from the entity that used to be in Baja California
The Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians actually own three different casino locations in the area - one in Cathedral City, one in Rancho Mirage, and one in Palm Springs. My guess is, if I had stayed with my driving directions, I would have ended up at one of the other two Agua Caliente casinos. Quite unusual to find three Indian casinos in close proximity to one another. Even more unusual is that all three are owned by a single tribe. Lake County in Northern CA has three or four casinos in close proximity to one another, but to my knowledge, each one belongs to a different Indian tribe.
Casino itself - a typical modern one: high ceilings, middle strip with the table games and higher cost dining options (two at this location).
Many of the usual slot games, a couple of rows of dollar slots. HohumYNWA’s worst slot game: Played it once - Green Stamps. There was no Green Stamps at Agua Caliente, but I have a new candidate for worst slot game - Hot Stuff (yes, game based on the Harvey Comics character).
Ok, the short version:
Play for about an hour on several different machines, down about $80. Then went to this Bingo-type slot game, starts negative and I put another $20 to try and complete a line - it works. Complete a line, get the prize and I offset half my losses. Decide to take a break. Walked out to my car - still triple digits. Didn’t stay out too long. Walked back to into casino. Found another Bingo-type slot machine -
started out negative, but then eventually completed two Bingo lines - prize takes me to positive for the day. Then, … the sneaky little red devil called me over and took my gains, and another $110 - Grr!
Late afternoon. Start thinking about dinner. Am driving on Gerald Ford (Yup, a reminder that another former Prez retired to the area) Drive,
and I see a strip plaza with a bunch of restaurants. Options
A. Indian Oven (think curry) - closed for that week.
B. Burger/Hot-dog/pasta restaurant - but they had just started taking orders from a largish party -
18-24 people. Skip
C. Mexican Taqueria - went over there instead.
Ordered my food to-go, so I took my tacos with me back to camp.
Changed my mind, did not complete a loop, via I-10. Sorry Obamas, maybe next time.
To be continued