Sneaking out of Fernley

December 30th, 2009

Somehow, we managed to get everything back in shape to roll and sneak through Donner’s pass in what Jenn is calling the ‘6 hour no-chains window’. Before we quit driving for the day, they had put chain restrictions back in place at Donner’s Pass and will probably leave them in place another day or two as they’re calling for 100% chance of snow at the summit today and tonight.

I think we got lucky with a weather window and it seemed like a good time to get the heck out of frozen Fernley. Jenn’s alternate route was going to keep us in mountains for quite a ways, which would have been cold! Also, apparently there were numerous closed roads connecting to that route, which didn’t seem auspicious.

Hopefully, we’ll be finding a longish term spot in the desert tonight. Last night next to the highway and the train got old early.

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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Mud And Life On The Moon

April 13th, 2009

Once we left Slab City, we went to check out the nearby mud pots as Ryan and Nicole suggested. After I wandered around for a while, we finally located them. That is, after a group of people who showed up with their own personal tour guide headed right for them. We were only given the cross streets for directions and being as I had never seen a mud pot before, I had no idea what to look for. I kept expecting them to be near water. However, they were in the middle of what appeared to be a dried up lake bed. My father the earth science teacher would be disappointed in me.

Mud Pot Eruption
Mud Pot Eruption

If you haven’t seen one before, I highly suggest it. Its not something us east coasters see every day. They are called mud pots, but I think that most of them looked more like mud volcanoes. They were four or so foot tall mounds that blew carbon dioxide and mud. The shorter ones blew more mud bubbles. They were the most interesting. The ones that were lower than the land around them acted more like boiling water pots than mud pots.

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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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Makeout Point!

March 25th, 2009

Makeout Point -  View from campsite in Tucson, AZ

You know that place where all the kids go in the movies and either a serial slasher shows up or someone gets pregnant? Ever wonder just where the heck it is? Apparently, it’s just northeast of Tucson, AZ in the Coronado National Forest.

We were passing through the area and decided we just couldn’t pass up checking out all of the giant saguaro growing in the area. We had planned to hit Saguaro National Park, but as we were coming in late in the afternoon, we decided to just make camp in the Coronado National Forest and hit Saguaro later. As it turns out, there wasn’t much need to go to Saguaro just to see the cacti. You couldn’t throw a rock in the national forest area without being convicted of damaging the endangered saguaro cacti. They were literally every twenty feet or so as far as you could see.

View of road to our campsite in Tucson, AZ.

By the time we finally got close to the top of the first mountain, we knew this was going to be a different camping experience. We passed dozens of cars coming down the road in the five miles or so before we found a nice campsite. We’re used to seeing maybe half a dozen cars over the course of a week in the national forests. As you can guess, we had people diving past our site all night long in everything from Cadillacs to dirt bikes. Still, it was worth it just to camp next to this sight!

With such a movie panorama spread out below, how could we resist? I mixed up a pitcher of fruit juice and ethanol and we climbed on top of the camper with a blanket to ward off the chill. It was a wonderful view and funny to watch people slow down to look at the nuts sitting on top of the camper.

We never did make it to the national park, but we put up with all the traffic and the shooting range just over the hilltop to hang onto the view for a few days.