Favorite meal in Ventura

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By Saimi Rote Bergmann

Best meal we ate in Ventura? It’s a tie.

Lunch at “Rice” and… dinner at “Rice.”  Yep, we did something we rarely do – ate twice at the same restaurant.  Then we did something we never do – ORDERED THE SAME MEAL.

Fabulous Thai curry. “Brown” rice that is actually maroon.  And crisp taquito-sized eggrolls that prompted me to do another thing I rarely do – eat an entire egg roll.

If you visit Ventura, you’ll see two restaurants named “Rice,” just one block apart.  The family that owned the original restaurant had a disagreement and some members left and started a second restaurant, using the same name and the same menu.

We chose the restaurant with the sidewalk seating (not sure which part of the family we sided with!). Being from gray Ohio, we are like cats, seeking sunbeams wherever we can. So we ate outside, and  marveled at the sun, the warm breeze and the lack of bugs.IMG_4101IMG_4106

What’s your specialty Tecopa ?

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The best thing about full time RVing is that you often have the freedom to change your plans on a whim. So we often ask locals, what’s a “don’t miss” around here?

Two people, including a park ranger, recommended the China Ranch Date Farm near Tecopa, so as we left Death Valley, we decided to detour south to visit it.

Whew. Neither person mentioned the hairpin turns, single-lane roads or steep hills.  It would have been scary enough in a car, but we were trying to maneuver it in a lumbering 27-foot long RV.

Terrifying.

Several times, Mark had to get out, jog ahead to the next blind curve, see if a car was coming, then wave me to inch forward. At times the rock formations on either side of the road were so close it was like threading a needle. We would have given up and turned around but there was no place to turn around.

Terrifying.

Was it worth it? You bet. IMG_4025

First, the back story. During the mining rush (gold, silver, borax, talc) at the turn of the century in Death Valley, a Chinese man named Ah Foo (I could NOT make this stuff up) left the Borax mines and started a ranch in an oasis, growing food for the miners.  His “Chinaman’s Ranch”  was very successful until he mysteriously (foul play?) disappeared.

Today the China Ranch is a date farmIMG_4027.

At the shop, you can sample a dozen different types of dates, from black to tan, or taste the date cookies and date bread.  But they are best known for their date shakes.

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I piled my purchases on the counter and asked the clerk for a date shake. She grinned, did a little shimmy, and said, “There’s your shake!”  Then, singing the whole time, she scooped vanilla custard ice cream and purreed dates into a metal cup, blended it, and served it to us with spoons, because a straw would have been ridiculous.

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Sticker shock in Death Valley

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Think of the cartoon of a guy dragging himself on his belly across the desert, thirsty, hungry, clothing tattered…then he spots an oasis.

That’s us. Well, except we are driving in an RV instead of crawling on our bellies. And our clothing is relatively tatter-free. But we are really really hungry.  So when we spotted the Furnace Creek oasis after a hard day of hiking, we parked at the campground and rushed to the adjacent restaurant.

Only to spot this menu in the window. Holy crap. $60 plus for a steak? It’s a CAMPGROUND!image

The Grand Canyon. Still grand.

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by Saimi Bergmann
Not much I can say about the Grand Canyon that you haven’t heard before. Still there. Still big.
We were awed, of course. And we took some great photos (she said immodestly). I could show you some of those, but instead, you get to see these.
Feel free to write your own captions.

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Aaaannnnnnd we’re back! Officially fulltimers now.

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Sing it with me – “On the road again … can’t wait to get on the road again.”

We had to take a break from our travels to return to Ohio to sell our home of 20 years.  I won’t lie, packing was a nightmare. And now our belongings are scattered between storage units in Canton, a friend’s attic in Alliance, our daughter’s home in Chicago, my parent’s home in Utah, and the RV.

But the house is sold, so we are officially fulltimers now. Or, as hubby says, officially homeless now!

Sing it Willie –

On the road again,

like a band of gypsies we go down the highway,

We’re the best of friends

Insisting the world be running our way.