Friday, November 20, 2015

Day 51 & 52: Too much driving!

Day 51:
Mon, November 16, 2015
This a.m. we slept in until 6:30!  Got up and off to go through Indianapolis during rush hour.  I expected it to be rather hectic but it was incredibly easy.  Spacious highways for the number of people using them.  They deserve and award!  Stopped at Welcome center in Ohio to shower, eat, and cook something for the day.  Ended the day at Port Jervis (PA rest area off I84) where trucks are not allowed at night…just couldn’t make it the 1+ hours home….zzzzz.
Day 52:
Tues, Nov 17, 2015

Drove the 1+ hour home and Wild West 2015 came to an end.  A good time was had by all.

Day 50: Driving like crazy

Day 50:
Sun, November 15, 2015:
Up at 5 am with the alarm to get moving towards NY.  Our drive took us past even more truck stops and they were all stuffed with 18 wheelers.  Route 44 in Oklahoma City North to 70 East.  Route 44 I would avoid…too many little cities of assorted sizes to muck through like Ok City, St. Louis.  To sleep late at a Walmart in Marshall Illinois and again over 800 miles travelled!  Travelling on the weekend did make a difference…could have been much worse.

Day 49: Leaving Las Vegas/the Drive home begins

Day 49:
Sat, November 14, 2015:
David wanted to drive home via routes 40/44/70/71/80 so in order to accomplish that without issues, we needed to drive the higher elevations (Flagstaff AZ – Albuquerque NM and east) when the weather was clear with no rain, snow, etc.  As it was the night time temps there were low 20’ to high teens…not conducive for spending a really cold night in rv with tanks to freeze (not pretty).  We picked  a nice weather window just before some snow was due to fall and drove from Las Vegas to Amarillo, TX…about 15 hours worth with 2 stops for gas and one to eat.  Spent the night in a Crackerbarrel Country store parking lot just off route 40…not very quiet but okay for this purpose and one night.
Route 40 turned out to be pretty much a truck route…but they were very well behaved.  Even though it was a Saturday, there were a fair amount of trucks travelling but they got off earlier than we did and up and going later.  PLENTY of truck stops, rest areas were much more scarce.  I would take this again.

Days 40 - 48: Las Vegas visiting family

Day 40 – 48:
November 6, 2015:
Early morning departure heading to Las Vegas.  For the next 9 days we will be spending time with family In Las Vegas.  

The end

Monday, November 16, 2015

Day 39: Mojave Preserve, CA

Day 39:
November 4, 2015:
We assumed the visitor’s center would open at 10 am; turns out it was closed today so we took a few photos and left.  Historic train center was visitor’s center restored and they did a great job. The original date palms are the only existing landscaping.

Today we drove a whopping 26 miles to our next overnight spot within Mojave Preserve.  Sunrise rock is a war memorial and we camped there (allowed).  Then we took a hike to Teutonia Peak…3.6 miles and elevation gain 900 feet.  A cool day to hike.  Mojave preserve is home to the most dense stand of Joshua trees in the world.
Dinner and another short walk of maybe a mile.  One other camper here.

The End

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Day 37: Mojave Preserve/Kelso Dunes

Day 37:
November 2, 2015:  Kelso Dunes @ Mojave Preserve
Hiking in the dunes I found this little lizard inhabiting
someone else hole..
I love dead quiet in the boonies.  Except for the 4 am hoot owl who stopped by for about 15 minutes it was VERY quiet.  

Desert color
This morning we took a diy walk to the Kelso dunes which are behind in our campsite.  David said it should take 20 minutes; even though I didn’t believe him, I didn’t bring water and hadn’t hydrated enough at breakfast.  His disclaimer stated that it was hard to judge distance though (I knew that).  So I made it about ¾ the way up and it was considerably more than 20 minutes FYI.  No water = dumb.  So I  sat in dunes, watched him go up and then walked back to campsite when I was cooled off enough.  Through our binoculars I could watch him climb to the highest dune’s summit.  It will be low 80’s today. It was not fun walking in the fine sand.

David's hike to the top...awesome!
OUR tree is a hub of activity and it’s the only tree that we can see anywhere at all.  Last night at dusk the monarchs where visiting it and some today as well.  When I was sitting out eating my breakfast cacao mug cake, I heard this buzzing.  I didn’t see any bees on any of the flowers as it was still cool outside.  By the time David announced that he heard buzzing and that there was probably a nest somewhere, I had come to the same conclusion.  It sounded like A LOT of bees.  The sign at the visitor’s center stated that Africanized bees are around when their sprinkler systems are on so stay away…so not sure what these are.
A day to relax some more.  Walking along the gravel road…easier and more pleasant than in the sand.
Our two closest neighbors (tents) left and we are alone on this road except for 2 trailers that are about ½ mile away.  A quiet day with no one visiting down the road.

Our oasis

The End

Day 38: Mojave Preserve

Day 38:
November 3, 2015
Well we didn’t end up staying in our campsite last night.  Around 6 pm the wind really kicked up (it was windy all day) and the tree giving us protection from the wind was REALLY questionable. There was a part of it that had already split off.

Historic visitors center/train station in Kelso
 So the choice was move further out from it and give up its wind protection or just move.  Added to that the radar was showing some rain in the vicinity, and we decided to move.  The gravel/sand roads we were using to get the 4 miles in there had MANY washes going across them.  We didn’t wish to have to wait there for roads to dry out before we could move.

We ended up at the Kelso Visitors center where there is no camping.  Actually we were not camping, just spending the night.  There was another camper there.  The motorhome was parked and we went dark.  Just five minutes after we hit the pillows, a LOUD train came through and the tracks are about 100 feet away….   Two more trains (not as loud) were to come through during the night.  This was a case of you get what you pay for!

Hiking in Mojave

Somewhere down there is our rv...

Our free camping spot

The End

Day 36: Trona Pinnacles to Mojave Preserve, CA

Day 36:
November 1, 2015: Trona Pinnacles to Mojave Preserve, CA
Our annoying neighbor left; we left as we had already planned.
Today was shopping day: restock the veggies, meat in Ridgecrest.  We saw that Albertson’s had 5 lb. bags of carrots (labeled HORSE carrots) for $6.99 so we were bummed that we hadn’t shopped there before visiting the Wild Horse facility.  There probably would have been enough in the bag to give each horse ½ a carrot (maybe) although it would have been really hard to give each one a piece as they tended to try and hog them.
Drive to Mojave Preserve to spend a some time there.  I think we travelled something like 200 miles or so today…haven’t done that in a long time.  We are staying for two nights here.  
We had read about a spot that we wanted to procure to camp in (for free, of course). Mojave Preserve has free camping in a couple of areas and they also have regular campgrounds. 

The spot we wanted was occupied so we picked something down the road.  We were eating dinner when I saw the car go by that was occupying that site.  I told David go check it out even though he said there is no way they had packed up so quickly when they were so well ensconced in the spot.  He did and I saw him trotting back (he doesn’t trot normally) so I knew it was ours if we got there quick. 

Kelso Dunes in Mojave Preserve
 We moved quickly and systematically to unset up camp in a matter of minutes; we don’t have an elaborate set up with lots of stuff to put away. I stowed anything that would fly, we picked up the leveling blocks, put away the solar panels and off we went.  So we are happy that we got the only treed site to block the sun…86 degrees today but cool at night 50’s or high 40’s.  Good score!

Our site overlooking the dunes

The End

Day 35: Trona Pinnacles, CA

Day 35:
October 31, 2015:  Trona Pinnacles and just relaxing
A few pinnacles...
Biking all around Trona Pinnacles today and just relaxing.   My new bike tires are designed for road travel and not for sandy gravel.  I almost wiped out about 5 times.  It was 81 degrees today and that was a nice change from the cold up near Bridgeport/Mammoth areas…still cool enough for sleeping at night.  I promised David we would stay here for two nights so that it is. We saw and heard a few vehicles today (a few cars, atv’s, etc) but they are gone now so it is quiet.  They kept their distance and it wasn’t bad when they were here.  The distant factory has stopped production so no there is no periodic thud noises (which were just a sound in the distance).  HOT in the sun.
Biking at Trona
By the end of the day, people came and went to visit the Pinnacles and roughly maybe 3 or 4 people came to spend the night (no rv’s).  The last car that came in at dusk was the problem.  Out of the miles of places he could have selected to camp for the night, he chose to park about 200 yards from us.  He had a jeep and could have gone WAY in back and had the place to himself.  David was unhappy. 

 He was on his cell phone so we could hear him very well (nice touch #2).  Then, while we were trying to watch the sun slowly set his headlights kept going on and guess where they were pointed (yup right at us and couldn’t have been better aimed). We went inside to play cards

Our boon docking spot at Trona

The End

Day 34: Alabama Hills, CA to Trona Pinnacles, CA

Day 34:
October 30, 2015:  Alabama Hills to Trona Pinnacles, CA
Nice walk with some scrambling in it among the Alabama Hills…a diy walk with no prefab trail with an arch that we found.
Drive to Fossil Falls (North of Ridgecrest, CA) to have a little walk and see the work the ancient falls did (no water now).  Volcanic Rock worn by water.

A short stop was made at the closed BLM Wild Horse & Burro adoption agency.  We couldn’t find one to tie up as a tow for our RV so we passed on bringing one back to NY.  We did discover that although the office was closed the dirt road around the facility was wide open for carrot feeding!  So some select recipients got pieces of carrots.  We saw zero burros.  The horses looked well cared for and healthy.
Drive to our night’s overnight parking spot at Trona Pinnacles.  The road in was rather rough…washboard gravel and approximately 7 miles long.  It is Friday night and there is only one other camper here…not bad for California.  Walk amongst the pinnacles.

Here is something I learned about the western US...just because something is name "lake" or "Falls", that doesn't mean there is actually water there!  In the east, there is actual water connected with those terms.

Fossil Falls

Fossil Falls


Feeding the penned wild horses and hoping not to get

Trona Pinnacles

The End