Saturday, April 30, 2016

Peggy Sue's 50s Diner, 4/26/2016

The day before we move to a new location, we do a thorough cleaning and organize our RV for travel. We usually go out to dinner so we don't have to clean up the kitchen. Our last night in Barstow, CA, we went to Peggy Sue's 50s Diner in nearby Yermo, CA, right off of I-15. 

The original diner was built in 1954 and was revamped by Peggy Sue and her husband, Champ, in the middle of the desert halfway between Las Vegas and Los Angeles. Peggy Sue was in 100 films and commercials and her husband worked at Knottsberry Farm. Buddy Holly and the Crickets wrote the well known song, Peggy Sue, about her! Peggy Sue and Champ moved to Yermo in 1981 and opened Peggy Sue's in 1987. Their extensive collection of Hollywood memorabilia is displayed throughout the establishment. 

In addition to the diner, there is a 1950s dime store/ice cream parlor and gift shop.

We ate in the diner but there are multiple dining rooms. I had the Patti Paige Patty Melt plus a glass of wine and John had Peggy Sue's Special Cheeseburger. Our food was good!

There is also a pizza parlor in the back. The nearby Marine base apparently orders a lot of take out pizza from here, but you can order anything to go from the diner too. Mostly we saw travelers passing through when we were there for dinner.

Strangely enough, there is a "diner saur" park that you can visit behind the establishment. The park has a pond with turtles and ducks. 

The statues are made of sheet metal. And that's John hanging from a rope over the pond (just's not a real person!)

It was a fun night out at a very unique place!

Calico Ghost Town, 4/25/2016

Located a short distance northeast of Barstow, CA, Calico was a silver mining boom town that started in 1881. $86 million in silver and $45 million in borax was produced here with a population of about 1,200. At that time there were 22 saloons, China Town, and a red light district. 

Over 500 mines drove the wealth in Calico from 1881 to 1907 until the price of silver dropped from $1.31/ounce to $.63. At that point most of the citizens of Calico left. The remains of some of the mines can be seen in the nearby hills. 

It was restored by Walter Knott (of Knottsberry Farm fame] beginning in 1951 and then donated to San Bernadino County in 1966. Below is a bust of Knott on display in the town.

Today, it is one of the few remaining original mining towns of the west. There are 5 original buildings and 26 restored ones that house small museums, shops, and restaurants. 

Artifacts from the town can be seen in various buildings, including the first bathtub owned by a private citizen!

An exhibit of mining operations and access to an underground mine tour is available in the Maggy Mining building. This is a dog-friendly place and we were allowed to take Sadie with us on the tour that was $3/adults; dogs free. 

Also near the mining building is a narrated train ride (8-minutes, $4/adults) that also permitted Sadie to accompany us. She loved it and so did we. 

China Town was the home to approximately 40 Chinese who provided laundry, bath and meal services to the miners. 

Because building materials were scarce here in the 1880s, many miners lived in their mining claim or built a cabin at the entrance. Also, there is house built of bottles that has some interesting design features!


The school house has been restored and is seen here. The interior has artifacts of the late 1800s. Sadie and I attempted to to pose as two school kids, but I had a hard time holding her and getting my head in the right spot! Nonetheless, this photo made me laugh!

It was very windy the day we visited, so was quite chilly. Be prepared for the weather when you visit. Also, the admission fee is $8/adult and there are several attractions where an additional fee is charged. Regardless, we love learning more about the Old West and we enjoyed being able to have our doggy, Sadie, accompany us on our visit.

Mojave National Preserve, 4/24/2016

Three of North America's four desert systems (Great Basin, Sonoran, and Mojave) meet in this 1.6-million-acre national park, the Mojave National Preserve, that was established in 1994. Located between Las Vegas, NV, and Barstow, CA, there is a wide variety of habitats here including the pinyon-juniper woodland, Joshua Tree woodland, cactus-yucca scrub, desert dunes (known as the Devil's Playground with dunes 700' tall), creosote bush scrub, and desert wash. Half of the park is wilderness and there are two small campgrounds. The Mojave Road was a trail used for centuries by Native Americans and then settlers that cuts through the middle of the preserve. There are three campgrounds here (one permits horses/equestrians) and roadside camping is permitted in some areas. 

There are two visitor centers and we made plans to visit both since it is quite a distance from where we are staying in Barstow to reach them (about 2 hours drive time). Our first stop was the Hole-the-Wall Information Center. The rock formations here are amazing.

We hiked the Hole-in-the-Wall Ring Trail (1.5 miles) that begins and ends near the visitor center. Because this is a National Preserve our doggy, Sadie, was allowed to accompany us on the hike. The trail is so name because there are two steep sections that have ringbolts that are used as hand and foot-holds to climb up the narrow trail. 

Trail skirts a rocky area where various cacti were in bloom and passes rocks of Native American petroglyphs.

The trail continues through creosote bush scrub with lots of mesas in the distance. 

Following the trail we came to cactus-yucca scrub and some very interesting rock formations. 

Yep, that's where the trail leads through the narrow Banshee Canyon. You can see the rings that we used to climb up the trail. Sadie had a little trouble navigating this section (and so did I), but John helped us both!

The trail ended near the visitor center. What a great hike! 

Next we drove to the Kelso Depot Visitor Center (about an hour drive on both dirt roads and the paved Mojave Road). Along the way we saw cattle and passed this ranch (private property operated by 4 generations of a ranching family). 

It opened as a rail depot in 1924 and also served as a restaurant and employee housing on the Los Angeles/Salt Lake City route of the Union Pacific Railroad. Today it is the primary information center and museum for the Mojave Preserve.  

There is lots more to see here. As always, our National Park System does an awesome job in preserving these unique lands. There is no admission fee here. For additional information on hiking trails and points of interest, check them out online.