Sunday, December 18, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Jill's Journal: Santa, in the form of Rob, came early this year and left me a pretty nice gift under the tree.

Well, not really, but Rob did encourage me to take a week or so off from blogging over Christmas and that sounds like a great gift to me. In fact, I just might have jumped at the chance. Allegedly, of course. Rob may (or may not) post a few times until I return in a week…or two. :)

Merry Christmas from our family to you and yours.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Caught in Calico

Jill's Journal: We had planned to leave Calico today, but high winds in the area (remnants of the Santa Ana winds plaguing Southern California yesterday and today) rather convincingly encouraged us to stay put one more day rather than drive our “high-profile vehicle” through danger.

And so, here’s our last shots of this fun and funny little “ghost town” called Calico. Notice this “grave” on the side of the road…

…and the poor departed’s boots sticking out!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Visitors Two Days Running

Jill's Journal: Who knew Calico/Barstow, i.e. the middle of seemingly nowhere, would turn out to be such a central location that would bring us visitors on two days in a row?

First, yesterday brought my friend-for-life Elizabeth and her free-spirited Mom, June, who were passing through town on their way from Las Vegas to California’s Central Coast. Two out of the three of us don’t drink coffee, but we met at Starbucks for three blissful hours of girl talk. More on Elizabeth next week when we’re on her home turf. She called this our “appetizer visit.” :)

And today, who came to deliver all sorts of mail and spend the day with us? None other than Grandpa and Beppy! The girls were so excited. Erika talked Beppy’s ear off, Victoria immediately attached herself to her best buddy “Gwampa,” and Madelyn bounced back and forth between the two of them.

We always, always have fun together…

…and get really silly. Beppy was trying awfully hard not to crack a smile here.

We loved the general store, one of Calico’s five original buildings.

And then it was off to nearby Yermo and a late lunch at Peggy Sue’s 50’s Diner, a roadside fixture on the path from L.A. to Vegas since 1954.

Beppy and the girls got friendly with Elvis. It’s hard to say which one of these four love the King more.

We haven’t visited Santa yet this year, but the girls got a kick out of this Santa “on vacation in Hawaii!” What a fun, fun day.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Calico Christmas

Being in a campground attached to a visitable attraction has been kinda fun this week. Even though the town technically closes at dusk, being a camper and knowing 'the late-night guys' has its advantages. For the entire month, Calico is decorated for the holidays, and it very apparent at night. I thought it'd be fun to wander around and show off some of the sites.

While we were visiting yesterday I took a couple of pics, and then took those same shots tonight with the lights on.

And then I took a couple of creative shots too.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Cats, Cemeteries, and Glass Houses

Jill's Journal: Calico is such a fun little town to bum around in. Today we visited the old cemetery, a little museum, and a glass bottle house (built in the 1950s out of 5,419 bottles). However, the girls’ favorite thing about Calico has nothing to do with the history or anything found on a map. It’s simply the cats that seem to be constantly roaming around the town. The one above climbed a tree right in front of the girls. They were smitten. Funnily enough, that will probably be the one thing they remember about the ghost town.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Classic Signs

Jill's Journal: I always get a kick out of a good sign. Here’s a few classics spotted around Calico and Barstow the past few days.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Calico Ghost Town

Jill's Journal: From 1881 to 1896, Calico was a booming silver mining and borate mineral town. A peak population of about 1,200 people, mostly miners, called the high desert hilly location home at one time. Over 500 mines were in operation, as well as 22 saloons and a bustling red light district.

When silver prices dropped, Calico became a ghost of its former self and the majority of it was abandoned. In 1951, Walter A. Knott of Southern California’s Knott’s Berry Farm fame stepped in. Just five of the original buildings were able to be saved and restored from the boomtown days. But using old photographs, Knott replicated and rebuilt much of the rest of the town on still-existing foundations. In 1966, Knott donated Calico to California’s San Bernardino County.

These days, Calico feels more like a theme park than a ghost town and can’t be confused with an authentic ghost town like Bodie. Instead, Calico has been carefully rebuilt to appear old (although some of the ruins do remain and many mine entrances are still visible). Most of the replicated buildings are air-conditioned and filled to the brim with shops and food and anything else that will appeal to tourists. But even so, it is, oh, so very, very fun! We're having a ball here.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Get Your Kicks on Route 66

Jill's Journal: Barstow (California), located about halfway between Los Angeles and Las Vegas, is not the most attractive town in the country or the state or even the county. I don’t say this too often, but it’s hard for us to find much to like about the town. It reminds me somewhat of Crescent City, also in California but 760 miles northwest of here in the extreme northern part of the state. Barstow is in the desert and Crescent City is on the ocean, but both are run-down, medium-sized towns that have clearly seen better days. We’ve seen plenty of rough “characters” milling about downtown in both spots that made me double-check the car doors were locked. Both also appear to have big homeless populations. And neither one is a place we’d feel safe loitering about during the evening hours (or the daylight ones, for that matter).

BUT, Barstow does have something that ranks high on the coolness scale. Historic Route 66 runs right through the town, right down Main Street.

And in the 1911 Harvey House, a historic rail depot and hotel complex from a bygone time, is the Route 66 Mother Road Museum. The museum is small, but it has several photographs and a few artifacts all related to Route 66.

Ahhh, Route 66. Now those must have been the days to really take a road trip. We take it for granted these days that we can drive to just about any spot in the country and do it relatively quickly. Back in the 1920s, when Route 66 got its start, it was one of the first U.S. highways and stretched from Chicago all the way to Los Angeles. The "open road" was a new concept. Route 66 must have represented freedom and adventure to people whose travels, as a general rule, had previously been limited to the nearest town.

“…and they came in to 66 from tributary side roads, from the wagon tracks and the rutted country roads, 66 is the mother road, the road of flight.”
--John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath