Sunday, March 12, 2017

NM To San Diego: Part 5 (San Diego, Quechan Casino in Yuma, Faywood,NM and back home)

After our wonderful visit to the Anza-Borrego State Park area, we headed to Claremont to visit with family and help with some furniture moving. After our family visit we headed to San Diego.

Karen's parents and her Dad with one of his two instruments. His other is a bass fiddle
We initially planned to stay at Santee Lakes Recreation Preserve Campground, but it turned out that our homemade camper van was not good enough for this exclusive county campground.

After we made a reservation for a campsite at Santee, we received an email receipt that stated that our RV had to have an Recreational Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) sticker on it. This sticker indicates that it was manufactured by an RV company and was an official industry made RV.

We don't have an RVIA sticker because I (Greg) made the camper myself.  I guess having an RVIA sticker is a way to discriminate against scofflaws like us!!!! It's apparently a very snooty place. I've never heard of a public campground that was so restrictive.

Anyway, we found a better spot nearby.  Through we discovered Lake Jennings Park Campground. This is a fantastic campground on a water district reservoir. It was beautiful and quiet with great views.

The view of Lake Jennings from our site #90.

There is a story that this campground may close because it doesn't get enough business. That would be a horrible shame as it is a really fantastic campground in a great location with 30 minute access to San Diego tourist sites.

We picked out a beautiful site (#90) on top of a hill in the campground with great views of both the lake and the town of  Lake City below. We loved this campground!  We took a hike around the campground. We couldn't go all the way around the lake as part of the trail is closed Monday - Thursday to protect wildlife, we suspect.

This is a fishing lake and you can even fish from your boat at night at certain times. There is a stocked kids fishing area where kids were catching big fish!

There are private shower rooms as well and nice bathrooms throughout the campground.

There were many hosts in the campground, maybe too many? The hosts that we met were super nice. We had a great short stay here.

The next morning we packed up, had a great breakfast at a nearby Denny's and then headed to Balboa Park in San Diego. The drive was relatively easy even during the morning commute. We parked near a carousel and headed out to explore the park.

The buildings are beautiful. We really enjoyed a reflection pond and the adjacent Botanical Building. We had planned to tour a couple of the many park museums, but it was a beautiful day and we wanted to be outdoors. We will have to go back and tour the museums at some point.

We wanted to go into the Japanese Friendship Garden, but it was $10 each for what looks like a relatively small garden, so we skipped it. (A friend just told us that there is a day pass that includes all the museums and the Japanese Garden. That would be the way to go next time.)

After our tour of Balboa Park we walked quite a ways north to a taco restaurant I had read about. The restaurant was too "fishy" for Karen, so we went down the street to a Chipotle Mexican Restaurant and had a nice lunch.

We hiked back to our van and headed for Cabrillo National Monument where there are great views of San Diego Bay and Coronado Island.

After our Cabrillo point view, we headed out of San Diego, trying to beat the rush hour traffic. The drive over the mountains was pleasant.

We stopped for a break at the Holtville Hot Springs and LTVA area. We didn't soak. We just wanted to check them out for a future visit.  An LTVA is a Long Term Visitor Area. These are popular with Canadian snowbirds. You can stay in a fully contained RV all winter for $180 bucks or 14 days for $40. It's a good deal and this one includes free soaks at the hot springs. The soak pools looked nice. We will definitely return to try them in the future.

We then passed the dunes area on Interstate 8 and made it to Yuma. There was a big sign for In-and-Out Burger and we just could not resist. I brought my gluten free bread in and ordered a protein burger that is wrapped in lettuce and put that on my bread. It worked well and I had no damage to my overly sensitive intestines!!!!  After dinner, it was dark and we headed to the Quechan Casino, where they allow dry camping in their southern most dirt lot.

Quechan is a nice Casino. They have a weekend breakfast buffet that looked nice. If you stay in the hotel there is a nice pool with a lazy river. We did gamble a bit and came out slight winners. We are not big gamblers, but it's fun for a short time and with just a little bit of money to burn. Karen is fairly lucky and usually comes out far ahead. I usually lose, so it all works out for the best.

Many RVers, in their large Class A rigs, or smaller rigs, like to stay at Quechan and enjoy the facilities and then during the day head to Algodones, Mexico. Algodones is just down the road and then a walk across the border for cheap dental work, good food and low cost prescription drugs. We know a lot of boondockers that do this multiple times a year. Quechan owns a big parking lot next to the boarder and they charge a low fee to park for the day while you are in Algodones.

We had a quiet night at Quechan, got up in the morning, made our oatmeal and packed up to head back to New Mexico. We had a woman run up to our van and she seemed disappointed when she discovered it was us (strangers) and not her friend who has a similar van. We had a nice chat. It is always fun to hear more about others journeys. She was a solo van full-timer. It's amazing how many solo women are out there, typically divorced and living on a small amount of money.

We drove a long day through Arizona and ended up back at Faywood Hot Springs again and soaked our tired bones before getting a great night's sleep.  During a hike around the property we ran into the Geeks On Tour.  Jim and Chris Guld travel in a Class A and teach technology classes to RVers at RV oriented festivals and events. We love to meet blogging RVers on our travels. We call it "Boondocker Bingo" when we meet them.

The next day we headed home to freezing Los Alamos.

This was another really fun trip. Until next time - happy adventures!

Beautiful Lake Jennings Campground provided by the Helix Water District.

You can go about halfway around the lake on Monday-Thursday.

Driving to Balboa Park.

Orchids in the Botanical Building.
A plaza at Balboa Park.

One of the many beautiful buildings at Balboa Park.

A beautiful fountain at Balboa Park.

The Reflection Pond and fantastic Botanical Building at Balboa Park.

Orchids at Balboa Park.

Orchids at Balboa Park.

The Old Globe Theater at Balboa Park. We would love to see a play here. 

Beautiful Buildings at Balboa Park.

The over priced Japanese Gardens at Balboa Park.

The view of San Diego Bay from Cabrillo National Monument.

The view of Coronado Island from Cabrillo National Monument.

Pond and Palms at Holtville Hot Springs.
Holtville Hot Springs soak pools and shower gizmo.

Dry Camping at the Quechan Casino south dirt lot.

The Thing!!!!!   Never did see it. Just a zillion signs for it. One day I will force Karen to see it.

Back at Faywood Hot Springs, checking out the night sky chair up on a nearby hilltop.
The dark sky at Faywood makes for amazing stargazing. 

We ran into Geeks on Tour at Faywood Hot Springs. BINGO!!!

We are watching you.


  1. Spending the day outside at Balboa Park was the best use of your time, in my opinion. It's such a beautiful place! If you do go back get a park pass which will get you into the Japanese Garden (yes, it is over priced!) and all of the museums. The museum and garden passes that we already have worked for most of the museums so we didn't buy the pass but it's a good deal.

    1. We will return some day and do the full tour. We will check out the pass, sure sounds like the way to go. Thanks!

  2. Great meeting you at Faywood Hot Springs. I hope our paths cross again.

    1. Thanks Jim. We hope to see you down the road again.


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