NCAR 2009

June 2nd, 2009

View of Mt. Adams from our campsite - NCAR 2009

View from the campground

One thing the east coast has that you don’t have much of on the west coast is a large number of caving conventions. There just aren’t very many conventions out here, even if the cavers are at least as active. As luck would have it, we stumbled across the Northwest Caving Association Regional. It’s a little coincidental actually, since it changes areas every year. Regardless of all the random factors that could have prevented it, we did find out about the NCAR in time and make it down to Trout Lake, Washington for Memorial Day weekend.

As with every caving convention we’ve been to, the people were awesome. You don’t meet nicer, more down to earth people than cavers. On Saturday, we bummed a ride with members of the Silver Sage Grotto (out of Idaho) where we had a rather massive trip through Butter and Stairwell. I think we had twenty-four people underground at one point, counting the infant strapped to his Dad’s chest.

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Left For Dead In Joshua Tree NP

April 22nd, 2009

I got my taxes squared away. Unfortunately, Johnny was still doing his and seemed like he would be for hours. I wasn’t in any mood to lounge around the camper and decided it was time for some fun. So, I talked Johnny into unhooking the scooter for me and proceeded into Joshua Tree National Park. I wasn’t sure if we were going to drive in there before we left our boondocking area just outside of the park, and I wanted to see a damn Joshua Tree.

White Tank Campground - Joshua Tree NP

After working the scooter through the loose sand, I hit Cottonwood road and headed into the park. It was a pleasant ride, albeit slow. The first part was all up hill and the scooter was moving between 10 and 15mph. It was during this part of the trip that I realized I didn’t bring a jug of water. Not good. Once I made it up to the visitors center it sped up to about 30mph. From then on, it was smooth sailing. I stopped at all of the various markers and checked out some Ocotillo trees in bloom. I was lucky enough to see a rare purple aster that supposedly only grows in this area. The only wildlife I saw were a few lizards and a rabbit. No sheep for me… sigh. After a long ride in the Colorado desert, I finally made it in to the Mojave. I looked at my fuel gauge, but it hadn’t moved. I decided to go all of the way to White Tank Campground.

When I arrived there I was overcome by the scenery. The giant boulders surrounded by Joshua Trees were an awesome sight. I was so entranced I almost didn’t notice the time or my fuel gauge. I didn’t have a clock, but the sun was pretty low in the sky. The gauge read 3/4 tank. I thought, “Plenty of time and fuel, but I should head back.” I got to see a Joshua Tree! Too bad it took 30 miles.

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Slab City or bust!

April 6th, 2009

Internut - Slab City Library

After we left Quartzsite, our next ‘destination’ was Slab City, just outside of Niland, CA. First though, we really had to do some shopping before I broke into the emergency can of baked beans. So, we hit Brawley, which is about twenty miles south of the Slabs. As long as we were in town, Jenn wanted to get some work done on the freecampsites website, so we endured horribly slow internet for a night, under the assumption that we’d have no internet at all once we hit Slab City.

Go figure. Slab City had the best EVDO connection we’d seen since we left Phoenix. In fact, it’s so good they have an internut connection in the lending library. Speaking of the library, I was really impressed with the selection of books available and found my share very quickly. I rather wish I’d spent more time in the library as I could have dug around for a few gems instead of grabbing the first half dozen titles that looked interesting.

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Quartzsite – the Ghost Town

April 4th, 2009

crystal hill - south of quartzsite, az

OK, technically, Quartzsite, AZ isn’t a ghost town, but it was rapidly on it’s way to rolling up the sidewalks for the summer when we finally arrived. I’d hoped to make it in time for some of the swap meets, but one thing and another had us well into March before we hit town.

We spent a couple of days out in the BLM land and wandering around town to see what was still there- not much! We were hoping we’d be able to get together with Ryan and Nicole who’d been working at Quartzsite all winter, but they were both working double shifts. After a couple of days, we took their advice and headed over to Crystal Hill, part of the Kofa wildlife refuge about ten miles south of Quartzsite. We clambered around in the hills a bit and came up with a few moderate sized quartz crystals for our trouble.

On the way back from Crystal Hill, we decided to stay in a campground for the night as the easiest way to refill our water and dump our tanks. I’m not sure we’ve done that since about June of last year, but for some reason it seemed the easiest thing to do. Imagine our surprise when we’d finished backing the rig in and find Ryan and Nicole’s trailer is at our back door! Total weirdness. The campground owner had told us there were ‘some kids’ in the spot behind us. Considering the average age of folks at Quartzsite, I guess we should have known it would be those other gypsy kids.

We ended up staying two nights instead of one and not getting many of the ‘internet chores’ done, but I did manage to climb on the roof and reseal the bulk of it before running out of dicor. Ryan and Nicole were a lot of fun and we had a couple of pretty fancy dinners. Ryan claimed to be a chef, so we made him prove it. I’m not entirely convinced yet… it may take a few more fancy meals! hint hint 🙂

Ryan and Nicole were planning to head over to Slab City as well, so we made some tentative plans to meet them in a few days and rolled out, hoping to get some serious shopping done in Brawley, CA. Quartzsite prices were, apparently, still marked up for the snowbirds. The next time we hit Quartzsite, we’ll have the cabinets and fridge stuffed to overflowing so we can avoid as much shopping there as possible.

Carlsbad Caverns

March 29th, 2009

Group Shot - Parks Ranch, NM

I hate to post two stories so close together, but since our internet connection is about to go from ‘two tin cans and a string’ to ‘no one can hear you scream’, I’m going to go ahead and put up the Carlsbad post along with a link to the fancy pictures.

One of the sights we were both looking forward to since we hit the road was Carlsbad Caverns. Neither of us had been here since we were children and while I couldn’t recall anything about the cave, I remember being fascinated throughout the entire trip. Since we’ve taken up caving as a hobby, Carlsbad has taken on the aspect of your run of the mill holy shrine and a required pilgrimage.

We knew our America the Beautiful pass would get us into the Big Room for free, but one day underground wasn’t going to do it. We’re trying to stick to a budget here, so rather than paying for a guided tour of other sections of the cave or other caves in the park, I emailed a couple of people in the local grotto and asked if they had anything going on. It was short notice, but they both responded and took us on two separate trips in two days with two caves each day!

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