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Thursday, April 21, 2011

DAY 97: HIGHWAY 62, COLORADO DESERT - VIDAL, CALIFORNIA - PARKER, ARIZONA

This is not just any hill of dirt.

This is a RAMP...constructed at least 70 years ago in the middle of what is today the Colorado Desert in South Eastern California.

That spec of mountain top in the far distance is IRON MOUNTAIN. In 1940, the United States Army made this piece of desert the primary training ground for at least one million troops, learning how to survive the elements and kill the enemy for the coming World War II.

TANKS. Tanks was the primary weapon of choice in 1940. At least 12 training camps were established in this desert through 1944, moving thousands of SHERMAN TANKS with their puny 75 mm Howitzers (which would soon stand front to front with Panzer 90 mm guns ).

Those Sherman Tanks were brought into this valley and after training their historic crews, carried out again. This RAMP is the remaining vestige of our forebears who drove their tank down this ramp for training...and after becoming one with their weapon, driving that tank back up this ramp to be loaded onto the rail cars heading for the Seaport which would carry them half way around the World to do battle for you and me.

A single railroad track...yet, so very important in American History...I found no plaque or honor for the railroad crews who carried the tanks into training...then off to do battle.




I stand, this April 21, 2011, some 65 years after the last tank rolled away down that rail line...leaving this vast sand infested valley quiet...so very quiet.




That is my shadow standing on the remaining timbers over which the weapons that have kept us FREE rolled onto rail cars standing on those tracks...and rolled away forever...into history.




Please give a moment of reflection. Please think sometimes of the sacrifices done for you and me.

This is a sacred valley. Think well of it.



And, this is the road that runs through it.




Highway 62.





Today, the attraction is 4-wheeling far and wide.




I wonder how many of those fun seekers in the sands of the Colorado Valley know of what they do.






Walking back to SPIA at the end of my 16-mile morning walk, this Ford Pickup Truck came rolling down those storied railroad tracks..




I waved...hoped they would stop...I was standing only 4 feet from the rail...but, no...the driver nodded his head and continued down the track.









Thought some might like to see how a pickup truck can drive on a railroad track.




Please click click to see the miniature wheels riding the steel tracks. The truck's rubber tire spins on the track, making the truck move forward - or back.




Since he did not stop to chat, I assume (I really hate "assumptions") he was on an inspection trip.



I met a California Highway Patrol Man in his shiny black Cruiser. He said if I drove down Hwy 62 to Vidal, there would be good berm for SAM. So, I drove the 6 miles to VIDAL, CALIFORNIA where one of the legs of US 95 crosses.




And whom do I meet ??? none other than the Christenson and Labrum Families...two whole vehicles full of them with trailer loaded with ATV and Motorcycles on their way to a few vacation days in BAJA CALIFORNIA, MEXICO.




Of course, it was Sherrie - front row, third from left - who caught my eye, but it was Hubby Darren who picked up the ball.




Seems folks who "give" somehow meet along the way. These folks, like SAM & ME, are hopeless "givers"...after chatting for a bit, we exchanged photographs for our own Blogs. I even received a gift: a baseball cap with embroidered with a Four-Leaf-Clover. Thank you ever so much.




Please say HELLO to the Christensons: Alex, Brayden, Kennedy, Darren, and Sherrie.




Not to forget to say HELLO to the Labrums: Lisa, Ted, and Porsha.




Just a few of the rewards found in the most unexpected places.




Good cycling...




VIDAL, CALIFORNIA. Intersection of Hwy 62 and US 95.









And, so I drove SPIA the final 9 miles to the Colorado River and the town of PARKER, ARIZONA.

We have taken a RV Park spot. Has been since BAKERSFIELD that I have had a shower (Phew) and SPIA's toilet tank is about overflowing...and I have run out of Chocolate Milk.




In the morning, I will walk back over the Colorado River Bridge for 4 miles and back and call it good (the trek from VIDAL to PARKER.





Witness the storied COLORADO RIVER...California over yonder...Arizona where I stand.





An upstream view (North). A true playground treasure in the vastness of otherwise dry desert.






California announces the "END" of their Highway 62.


It is bittersweet for me...long hot walks - doubled for the last time - but beyond beautiful and beyond historic.





The narrow Hwy 62 bridge over the Colorado River from California to PARKER, ARIZONA.




Lots of heavy construction equipment is already starting to build a new bridge.




Except for the water the Colorado River brings, I see no purpose for ....never mind





The Colorado River as it flows South from under the PARKER, ARIZONA, Bridge. Remember what you see in front of you.




A short lesson: Training for the Boston Marathon, I visited my parents living at that time in YUMA, ARIZONA. I would every morning at daylight, run from their home in South Yuma, across the Colorado River Bridge...hang a left across the desert into California...cross over the monster of an Aquaduct...and continue on to the Mexican border...and return...




On alternate days, I would run around the Marine Air Base...both runs about 30 miles.




I was 45 at the time. Started the Boston in position 10,000 - 11,000 Group. Certificate received said I finished 4,436. Guess my desert training paid off...Oh, in about 2 hours 45 minutes...not bad for an old fart who 8 months earlier was still smoking 3 packs of cigarettes a DAY.




I went on a tangent...what I really wanted to say was that as I crossed the Colorado River Bridge, there was very little water...it could be waded at any point. As the river crossed into Mexico, the waters simply ceased to exist...to my knowledge, not a drop reaches the Sea Of Cortez.




Drink deeply, Los Angeles...Mexicans are paying for it.


This is a small aquaduct flowing along side the Colorado River as it passes PARKER, ARIZONA.


I have had an emotional day. We needed to check into the RV Park to restock and clean up...also all the electricity I can use for the wee Mini Computer.




In the morning, back across in California for an hour or two...then East into the heat of the Arizona Desert.




Not previously mentioned, I have a number of relatives in PHOENIX, ARIZONA. Have not contacted them yet, but hope they will open their doors for me.

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