Gas pump from the original 1936 Sonora Service Station

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.

I was not expecting this at all! The green glory of Kern County Park.

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!

A reproduction of a mining era courthouse and jail at the Kern County Museum.

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.

Dark chocolate-covered macadamia nuts. Oh, bestill my beating heart…!

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!

Blacksmith shop from 1890 at the Kern County Museum

Local color in the gardens

28 Responses to The Magic Mojo Of Random Travel Stops – Bakersfield, CA

  1. Jerry B says:

    Glad you enjoyed Ming Lake. It’s sometimes a bit expensive with the extra charges for the toad and pets but probably still better than some private parks, and you sure can’t beat the scenery. We’ve come in a few times around dinner time, then left around 9 am and no one ever came by to collect. I guess that makes up for the charges other times!

    • libertatemamo says:

      Thanks so much for the tip! We didn’t actually camp there (it’s just a tad small for our “beast”), but we drove around to see everything and took a long hike w/ doggie in the park. It’s a total find and we would never have discovered it on our own.
      Nina

  2. Marsha says:

    You two hit the jackpot. My favorite place out of your day is California Fruit Depot. YUMMMMMY!

  3. Brian says:

    I’m a big fan of shorter drives too. I try to shoot for 2 to 3 hours between stops. We usually find interesting stuff within that distance. We did have trouble making it through West Texas, but some readers pointed us toward Sonora Caverns which helped break up that long drive on our most recent west/north leg.

    • libertatemamo says:

      Yeah we did West Texas last year and it is a WHOLE lotta nothing out there LOL. We didn’t hit Sonora Caverns so I’m going to have to look that one up. No doubt we’ll be travelling that way again.
      Nina

  4. jil mohr says:

    well as you already know you travel like we do…we love the surprises and the chances to change our mind or destination or whatever…even though it was raining cats and dogs here on the Oregon coast it slowed sown enough for us to seek out a wonderful goat dairy farm that makes wonderful…did I say wonderful goat cheese…..anyone in the area can stop by The Rivers Edge Chevre…you can google it…I am sorry we will miss each other but ya neva know….

  5. Luke Alexander says:

    When you get up to the Eugene area, be sure and go by the Carousel project in Albany, OR. One of the wonderful discoveries of motorhoming. I also ordered the Medjool date book. Should be an interesting read.

  6. I live your journeys with you vicariously, through your blog posts so please keep spinning tales!! I love the idea of a fruit n nut store – how cool!! And, taking a day’s break between drives is a really good idea… Thanks for the tip. =)

  7. Janna says:

    Last year on our way south we used the parking lot of the car museum in Murdo, SD as a boondocking spot for the night–museum was closed for the. Same thing on the way home, museum was still closed for the season but the parking lot was full of road construction trucks and crew–oh, well!

    • libertatemamo says:

      Oh bummer! I hope the museum hasn’t closed down permanently? I always wondered how they managed to keep it open out there in the boonies. Free-parking in the parking lot is a good idea. We stayed there out 1st year out (before we even knew about boondocking) and were in the next-door RV park. It was fine, but free-camping makes more sense.
      Nina

  8. Who woulda thought? Actually, we also drive about 150 miles a day and prefer a day or two to settle down in between. However, we don’t avail ourselves of many of those down days as you do. Shucks, we just sit and catch our breath. But then our lungs and legs have more miles on them than yours do! No excuse, I realize, and I do believe we are getting better about using our days.

    • libertatemamo says:

      Hey, taking a true “break day” is every RVers priviledge :) There are many layover days we do not much at all (today is an example for me).
      Nina

  9. You two are the true examples of taking time to stop and smell the roses. Isn’t it neat to find such little treasures? Reminds us that it really is the little things in life that matter.

  10. Rowanova says:

    Nice to see you’re enjoying the journey, not just the destination. Certainly a far more rewarding way to travel, learn, see, and experience life and its surroundings.

    Nice to see how much you appreciate the Pacific Northwest also. I’m from the Puget Sound area of western Washington, and have enjoyed much in Oregon as well.

    Have you spent any amount of time in eastern Oregon?

    • libertatemamo says:

      We spent a little time in Eastern Oregon (around Bend area) last year and really enjoyed it, but did see much else in the eastern pat. I really do love the state and am looking forward to going back.
      Nina

  11. Sherry says:

    The never drive two days in a row is my plan as well. But then I hate the driving part of Full timing so I want two nights between drives. Looks like you made the best that can be made of Bakersfield from what I hear. Well done!

    Sherry
    http://www.directionofourdreams.blogspot.com

    • libertatemamo says:

      Cheers. Looks like lots of other fulltimers do the same slow-mo travel we do. I do think it’s the best way to go if you have the time.
      Nina

  12. Neat! Who wouldda thought that Bakersfield could have anything to offer? This is one of the best parts of living on the road, there is always something to see, even in the armpit of California!

  13. […] Boondocking ← The Magic Mojo Of Random Travel Stops – Bakersfield, CA […]

  14. Kings On the Road says:

    The serendipity of travel may be the best part of RVing. The RV gives us the flexibility to discover and learn. Whether we stay somewhere for a few hours, few days or several months we always find a story. Check out our blog – http://kingsontheroad.wordpress.com

  15. rommel says:

    I don’t know what it is but I never really had an interest to Bakersfield. After reading, I didn’t know that there is so much to the place. Oh what a chain of blogging influence! Thanks for the share.I’ll put Bakersfield into consideration when I do plan my California road trips.

    • libertatemamo says:

      There are definitely hidden gems here and there in town. I’d go when it’s a bit cooler though. It’s a nicer all-around experience with cooler temps.
      Nina

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