Sunday, February 13: We eventually escaped the truck yard and headed back to JTNP for a 4-wheel adventure. We took the Geology Tour Road to the 11.5-mile Berdoo Canyon Road, which was mostly downhill (some pretty darn steep). At one point we came upon a warning sign, designed to create fear and uncertainty. Of course we ignored it and pushed on. Before we head off on any unknown 4-wheel road, we always make sure to have a full tank of gas, plenty of water and snacks, in case we get stranded. We took turns driving through the rocky desert landscape, which included a lot of very sandy roads that were tough to navigate. Fester took over when we reached a particularly difficult descent, lined with boulders and sharp rocks. Near the end of the canyon, we drove past the ruins of the Berdoo Camp, which was established in the 1930s by the builders of the California Aqueduct. The trail came out at Dillon Road, towards Rt. 10. Sadly, it was obvious where JTNP land ended and BLM property began. We started passing homemade shooting ranges, strewn with trash, broken bottles, torn plastic bags, abandoned targets and empty shotgun shells. We saw mini-dumpsites with tires, junk and even furniture. Litter was scattered all along the roadside. Seeing the total disregard for the land really pissed me off and makes me want to scream. As we headed toward home on Route 10, we passed several cities including Coachella, Indio, Palm Desert and Palm Springs. It is amazing how we went from desert to oasis, in just a matter of miles, with the mountains remaining constant.
Monday, February 14: Maureen, a friend back home, suggested we visit Pioneertown while we’re here. Her daughter lives in the area and shared the info. We passed the Pioneertown sign several times already, but decided to make it today’s destination. According to the official website https://visitpioneertown.com, Pioneertown was established in 1946 by Dick Curtis and seventeen investors (many from the film industry) to create a “Living Breathing Movie Set.”. Within its’s 32,000 acres of desert and mountains, Pioneertown became an 1880’s themed town with fully functional businesses including a grocery store, motel, saloon, restaurant, newspaper and post office. More than 5o films & serials were filmed in Pioneertown during the 194o’s and 195o’s. There have been over 2oo productions in town and all of the Gene Autry Flying A television productions through the 195o’s were shot here. Pioneertown is still a fully functioning production set where movies, independent films, music videos and commercials are filmed every month. Although there were quite a few people touring Pioneertown, it really comes alive on the weekend, when most of the shops and restaurants/saloons are open for business and tourists come in droves. We did see a few privately-owned homes on the property and wonder how those folks put up with all the tourists tromping thru town.
Tuesday, February 15: We woke to a chilly, windy morning and the wind continued to pick up throughout the day, with gusts up to 50mph! Being in the high desert, we saw a lot of blowing dust all day long. We’ve been at Bill’s Diesel for a week now, and today we’re supposed to find out the turbo status. That said, we wanted to stick close to home in case we’re able to pick it up from San Bernardino today. Late morning, Bill told Fester that the turbo guy was able to rebuild the turbo, but still had a few things to work on, so we can’t pick it up today.
We had some projects lined up to keep us busy while we waited. Sadie and I walked our desert loop again. The turbo guy got back to Bill before day’s end and said we should be able to get it in the morning – to check back with him when they open at 9. We took a trip to Home Depot to pick up some screws for my window blinds project and came across a really wacky car decorated with all sorts of stuff including antlers, coins, bullets, crosses, matchbox cars…you name it. I thought the “Art Car” was worthy of a few photos. I imagine the owner would be an interesting character with a story or two to share.
Wednesday, February 16: The temperatures dropped and the wind howled all night long, making for a bad night’s sleep. And, to top it off, we accidently ran our batteries down to 2% because we forgot to switch the portable electric heater to the power cord Bill let us use. As the heater slowly drained the batteries, it eventually shut down. It was very, very cold inside the coach when we got up. Fester turned the generator on so we could charge the batteries and turn on our heater system. Gentleman that he is, Fester insisted that I drink my coffee in bed while the place warmed up. I didn’t argue.
Bill said our turbo was ready for pick-up and he asked Fester if we would mind delivering a part to the same turbo shop. Of course, we said yes, but had to wait about an hour or so for John, the mechanic, to remove the part. We didn’t get back to the coach until almost 4 and decided to stay home for the rest of the night. It was a big relief to have the turbo here.
Thursday, February 17: Brrrr… it was a cold 35 degrees this morning; with a high of just 57 for the day. Interestingly, back home in Willoughby (yes, we do check) the temperature was 51 degrees this morning. It’s hard to believe it was colder here than in Ohio.
Last night was our 9th night in the truck yard, and while we’re trying to make the best of it, the experience is definitely getting old. Fester’s waiting until 9 or so to approach Bill and John to see when they may start work on our coach. The last few days have been very windy and chilly, which might slow down our progress since John will be working on our coach outside vs. the warmth/wind protection of a garage. At least we have the turbo here so its just a matter of hurry up and wait. Once we know when they plan to start work, we can make plans to do more sightseeing, etc. We’re talking about visiting JTNP again, but we’ll start at the Oasis Visitor Center and explore that part of the park. There’s also another 4-wheel drive/high clearance road we haven’t been on yet, that we may check out.
John started work on the turbo around lunch time, and we decided to stick around. It seems Bill had John focus solely on our repairs so he made good progress. Late afternoon he was adding oil and attending to a few other important details. Fester thinks John may finish up today and we can be on our merry way tomorrow. Yes!
We’re starting to think about routes for our homeward journey. We thought about heading north toward Las Vegas then Albuquerque, but cold temperatures may cause us to backtrack south, heading for New Orleans. Although it’s only the middle of February, we need to be back the first week of April for Fester’s scheduled doctor appointment and lab work. Starting back now will allow us to take our time and enjoy a leisurely trip down the southern coast.