We had been preparing to visit family in Utah in July 2012 when we received a last minute opportunity to use a travel trailer for our adventure. Although I had RV camped as a child, I certainly wasn’t involved in anything other than going along. Now I would be in charge of packing, cooking, and setting-up for our family of 4.
Lucky for me, I already had an itinerary planned which included crossing Central Nevada. Of course when I planned, it was going to be staying at hotels. Now that we were on our first trip with the trailer, I was having second thoughts. I knew that crossing was going to be DESOLATE! Then again, at least we had food and a bathroom. The trip was on!
Day 1 – Drive from Huntington Beach to Bishop, CA
We left early Saturday morning knowing we had a six+ hour plus drive ahead of us. To entertain the kids on this journey, we had each fill a reusable bag with plenty of books, some plain paper and crayons for art. Our kids also have their own cameras that can record videos which also kept them entertained.
After a few breaks, we arrived in a hot, windy, treeless valley which is home to the Manzanar War Relocation Center, a National Historical Site.
“Manzanar is most widely known as the site of one of ten camps where over 110,000 Japanese Americans were incarcerated during World War II.” National Park Service.
A somber start to our trip I know, but after reading the book, Garden of Stones by Sophie Littlefield, my interest was piqued. I was joined by my son for this adventure. Too hot for the rest of our family.
The visitor center offers extensive displays including photographs and artifacts. There is also a 22 minute film called, “Remembering Manzanar.” My son was interested in the activity where you can choose a name of one of the prisoners and find information about them in different displays.
After our time in the Visitor Center, we headed out to explore some barracks (so hard to imagine raising a family in such an unforgiving place) and other buildings. It was hot, dusty, desolate and windy. It wasn’t lost on me that my son and I had the opportunity to leave, while the families there didn’t have that option.
Note: Manzanar is a stop more for older kids especially if they are studying California history or World War II. There is a Junior Ranger program available!
We chose site 6C which was perfect! Now the question was how are we going to get the trailer backed-in to the spot? Luckily for me, my husband is very technology focused so we had 2-way radios (highly recommend) to help with the task. Not sure how we did it, but we got into the spot on the first try. That helped with our confidence level!
The site was lush with grass (no gravel pad here) and was surrounded on two sides with big boulders and a rocky hill. The kids had a great time jumping from rock to rock and making up games while we were setting up.
Keogh’s Hot Springs Pool is located right across from space 6C. Don’t be alarmed. The pool complex does look rather rustic and old and that is because it is. The pools you see were built in 1919. What matters is that the water is super clean and doesn’t have that rotten egg smell. They actually drain, scrub, and refill the pool every Tuesday (pool is closed that day). I also learned that the pools are free flowing, which means there is a constant flow of fresh mineral water all the time.
The main pool is kept between 86 to 89 degrees during the summer and they turn on the sprinkler system that sprays cool water. It felt like being in a rainstorm when you walked under the flow. There is also a hot pool (always 104 degrees), showers, bathrooms, lounge chairs and snack bar. What an awesome way to unwind and relax after a day on the road! None of us wanted to get out!
As the day waned, bunnies and jackrabbits came out from the hills behind our trailer to munch the grass. There was also a covey of quail that actually roosted in the tree next to our trailer. It was a very quiet and peaceful night. Time to get ready for our trek across Central Nevada!
*No open fires allowed
*Additional fee for Hot Springs
*Campground loop road good for kids riding bikes
For additional information on places reviewed here, go to the Business Directory.