Day 14: August 9, 2014
"Sorry folks, park's closed."

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The Araz Junction stage coach station is holding up well which cannot be said of the road that passes it. Most paved roads this rough have been made that way with lots of patches but this one seems to have done it on its own. Of course, I am driving one of the best rough road detection devices known to man plus I added a bonus of three miles to the experience.

Not long ago some friends and I were talking about hitchhiking. Most of us had done it in the past and most used to pick up hitchhikers but no longer did. I said it was because I'd grown old and feeble but the truth is I doubt I could ever have physically defended myself from most of the folks I once stopped for. I suppose that conversation was part of the reason I stopped for the fellow walking in some heavy sun along this almost middle-of-nowhere road. I hadn't yet totally scattered stuff about for the day so I could pluck my camera and case off of the passenger seat so he could get in. He spoke about as much English as I speak Spanish (i.e., next to none). He got across the name of a town which I knew was on the other side of the expressway and I got across that I was getting onto the expressway. (I actually got across I-8. Numbers worked.) When we passed the adobe walls of the old station, I couldn't explain that I was stopping for pictures so I took him to the expressway and doubled back.

It no doubt takes a lot of electricity to power those big signs.

I've often notices the signs locating concrete cylinders of radiator water during the climb. For some reason I decided to check one out today and happened to pick one overlooking an intact section of the old road.

The approach to Desert View Tower seems to get a little more interesting on every visit. Now, in addition (and probably related) to the flying saucer retrieval service there are some messages and more than the normal population of balancing rocks.

O honey heed me, turn off the T.V.
"Turn Off the T.V.", Dirk Hamilton, lyrics 1980, performance 2012.

Of course, Desert View Tower itself is always interesting and there is always something new or something I haven't noticed. There are great views of the old as well as new road and of the Tower compound. Those are indeed roof mounted solar panels quietly recharging Ben's all electric Nissan Leaf in the fifth picture. I didn't get at all deep into Boulder Park today but I did poke my nose and camera in just a bit.

In the past, I've spotted the tower from the expressway shortly before the exit. Today I spotted it much further away and point my camera at it. The result is here.

In California, Historic US 80 is signed pretty well. The big rattler is at the entrance of a park -- and playground -- in Jacumba. The big map of local attractions is just beyond the snake. Just beyond Jacumba, the road gets quite close to Mexico. That's the border fence just beyond the wooden guard rail.

This was my third and final Border Patrol checkpoint of the trip west. It was also the quickest. This time the agent said nothing at all as he waved me through. At the first one I got "Have a good day sir. Thank you." At the second it was "Thank you. Have a good day." Those were in Arizona so maybe the agents there are just more talkative. Apparently it's felt that, even if my trunk was completely filled with illegal aliens, it wouldn't amount to enough to matter.

Maybe talkative Californians gravitate toward agriculture. My longest checkpoint stop -- and only actual exchange -- was at the California agricultural station. The female agent tapped her watch as I pulled up.
"You were supposed to have my car washed and waxed and back here an hour ago."
"Somebody better wash this one. All this dirt is hurting my gas mileage."
A big laugh and "Have a good one."

I was thinking about washing the car even before the exchange with the agriculture agent so I was a prime target for the Pee Wee Football team waving signs in El Cajon. They did a great job although I think each kid only got one swipe at the car to dry it. Some were impressed with the Ohio license plates but one kid was more excited about the GPS unit.

As I've said elsewhere, this really did feel like a Chevy Chase moment. There are three Old Spanish Trail Zero Milestones. I stopped by the ones in Saint Augustine and San Antonio and was ready to complete the set in San Diego. Like the Griswolds finding a closed Walley World, finding the marker location closed off and in the middle of a major rework left me dumbstruck. My son lives here but it never occurred to me to ask him if the park at 4th and Broadway was in the middle of a multi-year project. I'll know better next time. At the moment, I don't know whether the marker is still in there, is in storage, or maybe even available for viewing somewhere else. I'll be working on that.

By fortuitous coincidence there turned out to be a brewery just a few blocks from my motel so I was able to drown my sorrows in pizza and beer. URBN St. Brewing offers a variety of beers in addition to six of their own. They also have a coal fired pizza oven (Which I erroneously reported elsewhere as wood fired.) which produces some might fine pizza. Here's dinner and one or two lunches.

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