Southern California on some roads less traveled

Images of Southern California


I have probably mentioned this before, but my idea of a perfect trip is to start the journey with no idea how it will end. Whether I have a seemingly unlimited amount of time, or just 4 days, as I did last week. Some of the most memorable trips I have had are the most unexpected.

Like having my tour group leave Nairobi for Cairo, and 4 of us were bumped for the overbooked flight. I spent a day or 2 just wandering around Nairobi – with no itinerary.

When I did get to Cairo the next day or 2, I took a taxi to our group’s base – the Radisson Hotel in Giza, and the memories of Cairo, and rounding a corner of the wide boulevard – and seeing suddenly the great pyramid at Giza loom into view – was a lifetime memory. That is a memory I would not have had if I had been with the group on a tour bus from the airport.

So I not only welcome the unexpected, I work to get it.

Last week, I had all of 4 days to get away – somewhere. I had planned on getting to Sandy Eggo and possibly having a little Lex get-together (I did, as it turns out, at McP’s on Coronado with one Lexican! ), but from there, the itinerary was open.

I wrote about stopping at Hearst Castle and Hollywood Forever, yesterday.

I have had a fascination with 20th century ghost towns, ever since I saw Amboy on my 7,500 mile loop around America. Now I have heard someone has bought the town, and is trying to cash in the  craze – particularly among Europeans and Brits – to experience old Rt 66. Roys is going to reopen after decades? As an aside, I got a kick out of seeing cars the Europeans had shipped over – just for the Rt 66 experience, staying at old, run-down motels. Stayed at one in Flagstaff, and had to be reminded. Things like a translucent curtains, glowing red and blue from the flashing neon sign. Cinder-block walls with no 110v outlets for…your iPhone. And I was thinking of families in the 40s-early 60s with non air conditioned cars and children crying in the back seat – “are we there yet? ” 

I had forgotten all of that  in the Rt 66 experience. 😉

I like ghost towns. Towns with no inhabitants.


I had heard of another ghost town in California – Bombay Beach, on the Salton Sea. . The Salton Sea is an interesting body of water – it came into being when a levee broke on the Colorado River in the early 1900s.

Anyway I decided to make my trek and see Bombay Beach, and whatever else came along. Took some roads less traveled from Sandy Eggo.

It supposedly became a ghost town when pesticides from surrounding farms seeped into the water and killed the fish. Which water skiers found unappealing, stepping among rotting fish on the shore.

First – San Diego. I met Sara, my cousin, at McP’s, the famous SEAL restaurant in Coronado. Sara and I caught up on old times, and she told me of restoring the jeep that was so prominent in our childhood. It was, among other things, the vehicle that finally drove Mr Tipp, the most feared dog in Wayne County – to shear terror whenever I took the wheel. Sara reminded me of how we used to check the fuel level – by putting a stick into the tank, which is right under the driver’s seat.

Southern California on some roads less traveledJeep1

Southern California on some roads less traveledJeep2

Before I go on, let me apologize for the small and low resolution quality of my iPhone photos. My iPhone SE takes great photos – but to save space I changed them from megabytes to kilobytes. I want to make sure anything of Lex’s deemed worthy for republishing goes in here before we run up to our space limit. Lex takes priority here.

Southern California on some roads less traveledMcPs1

McPs – Coronado


Southern California on some roads less traveledMcPs2

You have probably seen a lot of pictures of McP’s – but I strive to show you the things unseen

Next, I was on the road to Bombay Beach (sounds like a Bob Hope movie?) First stop was Julian. Now those of you who haven’t been around here may think Southern California is all beaches and Palm trees and traffic congestion. Julian is an old gold rush town 62 miles from San Diego, up in the hills at 4,200 feet.

In the winter, it can be 80 degrees in San Diego and snowing in Julian – 62 miles away. Let me tell you this day with the wind it was cold.

Southern California on some roads less traveledJulian

On the road to Julian


Southern California on some roads less traveledJulian1

Downtown Julian


Southern California on some roads less traveledJulian2

60 miles from San Diego and it seemed a world away


Next I was on the way to the Salton Sea, but not before seeing some interesting things in the desert.  Where else but California can one go from the seashore to the mountains to the desert, all in a few hours?

Southern California on some roads less traveledOcetello1

Ocatillo Wells Airport

Southern California on some roads less traveledOcetello

Ocatillo Wells  Airport – and the solitary airplane


On the Way to Bombay Beach…

Southern California on some roads less traveledOcetello3

OK….I get to Bombay Beach. For me anyway, it was a disappointment. Why? For one, it wasn’t a ghost town. People were still living here. The solitary business seemed to be a bar. It was up near the shore where one saw abandoned homes. I pulled up close to the shore, and this British couple came in behind me. We were both laughing, since there were still people living in what had been touted around the world as a “ghost town”.

Oh well.

Southern California on some roads less traveledBB1


After spending the night in Barstow – an old Rt 66 stop – I was heading home. But first, a stop at the Mojave Airport. The Mojave Airport to me is fascinating. I think it is equally famous as a storage facility for the world’s airliners, but also as a development center.

I can remember stopping here in the 1980s with the civil war raging in Lebanon. There were a bunch of Lebanese Airline Boeing 707s parked here, to keep from getting blown up in Lebanon, I guess. Not all planes that come here are destined for destruction. There must have been this day several dozen 747s parked. The airlines are phasing them out.


I was driving around a bit and seeing buildings that housed some of the world’s amazing record holders – like Burt Rutan’s Scaled Composites. I guess Northrup Grumman owns it now. This is their latest creation – the Stratolaunch – doing taxi tests here just a day/2 ago. Isn’t it amazing? They also built the Voyager, which set a record flying around the world without refueling.

This was sitting by the road – never had heard of the Rotary Rocket. It was an idea years before Elon Musk perfected reusable rockets; the company just ran out of development money.

Southern California on some roads less traveledMojave5

Before leaving I had to stop in the restaurant. The waitress was nice. She said before coming here, she had no interest in aviation but it grew on her. She said Dick Rutan has come in frequently. He piloted the Voyager (with Jenna Yeager), and was a Misty. She did not know about the Misties. What an amazing group of aviators they were.

BTW I asked her if I could go out and walk around all the mothballed planes. She replied that they used to allow that, but someone photographed a secret plane so they stopped it. I guess from their standpoint it is all liability but it would have been interesting. I think they scrap some planes there too.

Southern California on some roads less traveledMojave1

Southern California on some roads less traveledMojave4

Route of the record-breaking Voyager

Southern California on some roads less traveledMojave3


It was a rather nice 4 day trip.

1 Comment

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One response to “Southern California on some roads less traveled

  1. Pingback: A Buzzkill | The Lexicans

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