By car it takes just under six hours to make the trip from San Diego to Tucson. Six hours is quite a chunk of time, especially to spend driving on a relatively short vacation. Some people said that the trip would be boring, and asked ‘why would you want to do it?’ I wanted to see both cities, and I know driving through anywhere for six hours there must be something exciting along the way. I was up for the challenge to make this trip fun, and thoroughly succeeded. Regardless of activities, this trip was full of gorgeous and ever changing scenery. Palm trees were traded for giant cacti along the way. Groups of mountains popped up and each set was made of unique rocks and shapes. How could you not fall in love with the vast and strange landscape? I had five events planned for the trip at about hour intervals so no one got tired behind the wheel and we stretched our legs frequently.
The first stop still in California was the Desert View Tower in Jacumba [1 In Ko Pah Rd Jacumba, CA 91934], a very odd roadside attraction. An hour outside of San Diego all signs of city life disappeared. We were truly in the desert now and with no one to hear us scream we quickly drove past the aliens and UFOs. We parked in the lot and dogs instantly appeared barking at us. A call in the distance called to us, “do worry, they think we taste like chicken.” Comforting. They were super friendly and adorable though. We walked into the tower and that same man ran the attraction. He was happy to chat and tell us about the history and sell us tickets to the top, $4.50 a piece. The price of admission allows you to take the short climb to the top of the tower, hike to the springs, and explore the caves. Well worth it, this was a lot of fun. The top of the tower gave us beautiful views of the pale rocky In-Ko-Pah Mountains. The tower itself was filled with interesting artifacts and funky odds and ends for sale. When we finished up there we went to take a hike to the springs, a short jaunt up a hill past some interesting art. When we got up there, no water was found, the joke was on us! The caves were legitimate, and more much than I expected! It doesn’t take too much time to explore them, but they are a bunch of boulders that formed some narrow caves. What makes this extra interesting are the bizarre rock carvings from the 1930s that you will find as you traverse the paths. Along with the carvings, one real lizard too! Interesting stuff, but we had to keep moving on.
Next stop was in Holtville to a true desert oasis, the Holtville Hot Springs [3700 Evan Hewes Hwy Holtville, CA 92250, on the side of the road closest to the highway across from RV park– entrance near BLM restrooms]. We parked our car in the lot and walked past the restrooms and saw some sprinklers and a concrete pool filled with hot mineral water. It was small and occupied by old men in Speedos so we walked on and discovered something we were much more comfortable with, a lagoon lined with palm trees and filled 75 degree water…perfection, and we had it all to ourselves. We laid a blanket out and soaked up the warm desert sun before taking a glorious dip. It isn’t the biggest pool but you can do some laps, keep moving so the fish don’t try and eat you. They didn’t bother me at all even when I was just floating, but I saw them around. This was one of our favorite activities of our trip, so peaceful.
Next stop on our trip was to Yuma, AZ. We made it! We were supposed to have lunch at the Garden Café, a lovely little spot with an outdoor patio decorated with plants and hosting live birds. However, they close at 2:30 and we didn’t account for time traveling! Once we passed over those mountains we lost an hour, and our 1:30 became 2:30, and we were there just at the time they closed the kitchen. Bummer! The place did look beautiful though; our hungry souls grabbed lunch at diner, gassed up, and kept truckin. Down the line was Dateland [1737 S Avenue 64 E, Dateland Arizona 85333], a little truck stop with something special. It wasn’t the gas station or the quiznos, but the phenomenal and refreshing date shakes that drew us here. The mixture is simply fresh dates and softserve ice cream, so sugary and delicious, it really helped us towards the end of our drive. The shake joint was attached to a gift shop which had some local doodads and different kinds of dates to try! Yum.
Just about an hour out of Tucson was our final stop, the Rooster Cogburn Ostrich Ranch [17599 E Peak Ln, Picacho, AZ 85141], and what fun we had here. I heard you could feed the ostriches, that was enough of a draw for me, but by golly! There was so much more, and only for $7. You get a big cup with all types of different feed for different animals. Take in the Picacho Mountain view and then get feeding. I went clockwise starting with the donkeys who were patiently waiting, so goofy. Next were the fallow deer who I had a strong affinity towards. They had super cute faces and snotted all over my hand as I fed them. The insanity really bucks it up a notch when you reach the goat penthouse.
Goats like to be the high, so first thing in the morning they compete to make it to the penthouse, and food gets cranked up their way. Even odder still and possibly oddity at its peak is the hole in the wall gang and the things that people do with them: I received my first (and last) goat kiss here! You put a feed pellet in your mouth and get just close enough so the goat can grab it, and if you keep your eyes open it is the most terrifying and hilarious sight to see the licky goat getting closer. Avoid slobber at all costs, move slowly! So silly, so fun. Next up is the famous ostriches, the terrifying beast birds. I was too frightened to let these aggressive birds with their big beaks eat out of my hand, so I put some food in the trough for them. Peanuts for prairie dogs and more pellets for ducks. Last but not least, some nectar for the lorikeets! Enter the little greenhouse with your hair pulled back and earrings off (to be on the safe side!), and hold on to your nectar. The birds get excited when you come in and will flock to you, if you are not careful they will yank the lid off your nectar tub and feast without warning. I loved hanging out with these vibrant feathered friends. A seriously amazing road-trip from San Diego to Tucson, now I dare you, try and tell me this is a boring trip!