On yesterday’s post quite a few folks commented positively on the fact that we always take a “chill” day between drives. It’s actually been a habit of ours since we started RVing. We decided early on that, as much as possible, we were going to do short(ish) drives (our average is ~150 miles), take our time to enjoy the ride and stop to smell the roses along the way. This approach has meant we’ve ended up in some pretty godforsaken spots, but it’s also given us some of our best “surprises”, all from random travel stops along the way. There’s the cool vintage car museum we stumbled across in the middle of nowhere in Murdo, SD, the surrealistic Garden of the Gods that we discovered in the deep forest of Illinois, and the stunning Owl Canyon that was hidden outside Barstow, CA…..just to name a few. For me these unexcpected encounters are all part of the magic of travel. I believe everywhere has something to offer and I am always looking for that magic to reveal itself.
Take our layover day here in Bakersfield, CA. We had no expectations and no plans coming into this town, other than to take a break on our route north. But with a combo of tips from blog readers and some travel magic mojo it’s turned out to be another one of those surprising and educational stops.
It all started out bright and early with a tip from blog reader Jerry B. that directed us to green glory at the Kern River County Park. This total surprise of a place is only ~10 miles from our RV park and is a huge, deep-shade-lined recreation area with camping (bit small for our size, but otherwise gorgeous), fishing, a golf course (!), a living museum, miles of hiking & endless reams of squirrel-chasing (for the furry ones of us that like that kind of thing). Total peace and relaxation (we only saw one other person on our hike) in what is otherwise a pretty hot and dense town. What a find!
The afternoon continued my intrepid exploration with a visit to Kern County Museum where I was inspired to go based on a random link I’d seen in the park brochure. It was actually closed today (duh!), but I wandered around and found an open gate in the back which practically begged me to enter the Pioneer House exhibit (it did, really it did). Serendipity! The next hour I was treated to a private viewing of the 55 fabulous reconstructed original houses with a fascinating history of the mid-to-late 1800′s from gold rush to oil boom. Not bad for a total fluke.
To round off the day I motored over to the California Fruit Depot which had been recommended by blog readers Jim and Luke (double tip!). Score again! This cool little store must have at least 80 different versions of dried, spiced, chocolate-covered, candied, roasted…you name it…fruits and nuts. And each and every item is open for tasting, meaning you can literally munch your way around the shop. To top it all off they sell a book that tells “the gripping firsthand account of one of the most miraculous rescues from certain extinction ever achieved“. It’s the dramatic and suspenseful story of the Medjool Date…and no, I’m not kidding. Should you feel swept away by the tale you can even buy a home-made Date milkshake right on-site. Oh, and there’s a hidden Geocache here too. Well worth the stop!
And finally wouldn’t you know we met a fellow blogger here too. Smitty & Sandy’s Tour are staying in the same RV park we are. Smitty came over to say “hi” yesterday afternoon and even picked us a bag of oranges from the grove. Groovy!
An unexpected day in Bakersfield, one new friendship, three unplanned visits and a whole lotta cool memories. The magic mojo of random travel stops is alive and well!