Monday, December 03, 2018

Mostly Mojave, then Mohave!

It looks like we spent almost 10 days, camped in the Mojave Preserve, south of Baker, Ca.We were a long ways from I-15, and a fair ways off pavement.  Average traffic past our spot was <1 vehicle/day.  During the long weekend, we could see the solid line of traffic in the distance, and we were SO glad we were not part of that rat race.


There was a nice mountain complex beside us, so that provided some exercise exploring and scrambling up the various peaks, or walking entirely around the rock in the desert.

As per usual in these spots, my floor magnet picked up a good quantity of nails from the various abandoned fire pits – from past idiots burning pallets.  Lots of broken glass, from target practice no doubt, was picked up and hauled to the bins in town.  Overall though, the area was pretty clean and well kept. 

A bit of burro sign seen in the desert, but none were spotted.

The area has an active volcanic past, so back trails lead to some very interesting formations.  One of these is a small lava tube that you can walk down inside.  There are stairs leading down into it in one spot where the roof has collapsed, and then you can go a few yards in either direction.


On the surface, next to my light is a small hole, less than a foot across that leads down into the cavern.  Inside, this is a hole in the ceiling, about 10’ over your head.


At this spot, the road ended at a dry waterfall in the wash.


Several evenings Hailey was indicating mouse-like sounds, but they were coming from high on the walls or ceiling, not the usual mouse haunts.  Finally went outside with a light and found that it was a large group of bats circling the rig, and presumably landing on the roof or walls that was creating the scratching sounds!  That’s a first.

IMG_0598IMG_0559Found these spider dens out in the desert.


I had one neighbour for a few days, but we each had our own private side of the rock pile.

DJI_0654After departing that location, we found another scenic spot for an overnighter.


Hailey climbed a Joshua tree for a look around the neighbourhood.


This is the Mojave Cross, on the Cima road, inside Mojave National Preserve, also known as the White Cross World War I Memorial.  It was the subject of a court battle that went to the supreme court.  So now it sits on a small parcel of private land – surrounded by the Preserve.  You can read all about it with the link above.


I hiked up Teutonia Peak nearby and checked out some abandoned mine workings, but passed on the higher Kessler peak hike.  It is high elevation and sunny, but fairly cool, so only spent the one night there.

From there we headed back eastward to Searchlight, Nv, but had to dip into my fuel reserves to get back to the much cheaper Nevada prices.  After topping up the propane as well we headed down to Six Mile Cove on Lake Mohave, meaning to just check it out. 

IMG_0626 - Copy

But the long road down to the shore was so rough with washboard, we decided to stay a few days.  The area was much cleaner than when I had visited years ago, but there is still abundant trash back in the bush and along the shoreline.  Only saw one Roadrunner, and wondered if it was the same one that came face to face with Hailey in the same tree when we were last there!  There were only a couple other rigs there, but it got a bit breezy, so that attracted a bunch of kite boarders.


AT&T signal was weird there.  It would be strong for an hour or so, then be gone for longer.  Even on the surrounding hills it was not consistent.  I’ll use that as the latest excuse for not updating the blog.  Nice neighbours from Missouri felt sorry for me and picked up some cold beverages for me on a trip back into town.  We hadn’t planned to stay that long and were running a bit short.


Had a bit of a rain shower one afternoon, but there was no visible runoff down by the lake.  It must have rained a lot harder up near Searchlight, as there was obvious signs of flooding across the Cottonwood Cove road, and some minor erosion of the road shoulders.IMG_0634

Monday, November 19, 2018

Death Valley and the Jedi Transition

Pretty much every morning while camped near Travertine hot springs, Bridgeport, California, it would be a run to the hot water of the springs at first light, hoping to be the first and get my favourite pool.  It was chilly in the mornings, sometimes frost on the windshield and the heated seats were welcome.IMG_0005
Staying in the hot water till the sun came up was the key.  Once the sun appeared, the temperatures warmed up very quickly, and a towel was not even needed to dry off!  That strategy was working well till the truck refused to start a couple mornings Sad smile  I was actually surprised that the batteries had lasted as long as they did, having killed them completely a couple of times over the past couple of years.  In one case, an outside light on the camper had come on while parked at a fire camp while I was working at a remote fire lookout for 2-3 weeks.  So with batteries in mind, I left Hailey to guard the rig, and I backtracked northward up 395 to Gardnerville and Carson City, Nv.  Got the new batteries installed, then decided the time was right for a radiator flush, after nearly 400,000km.  I’d noticed that the truck had begun to run a bit warm on any sustained climb while towing the 5th wheel – and it never used to. Luckily the guy at Jiffy Lube suggested getting the work done at a radiator shop – and it turns out that was good advice as a simple radiator flush would have done nothing for the problem.  At Douglas radiator, the entire radiator and inter-cooler were removed from the truck.  Then the cause of the problem became very evident.  Although it was not visible from either the front of the rear of the rad, it was jam packed full of desert dust, bugs, feathers, moose parts, and I think there was even an elephant tusk in there.  The guys at the shop had to steam clean the rad from the front and the back before finally getting it clean and shiny and like new again!  Bring on the hills again.
Seems like Hailey had some company one night, as captured on my trail camera.
I think we had been at Bridgeport for about a week and it was getting close to the time to head out.  The final morning it was more than a little chilly as I headed to the pools.  My truck thermometer read –14C (7F), but the weather app said it was –17C (1.4F), and the water ceased to come from the taps!  Definitely time to head for some lower elevations!
Around noon we headed south, briefly stopping in Bishop to fill a propane bottle, then carrying on down to Lone Pine, and the Alabama Hills!  My spot from last spring was available, but what’s this? Some sort of sign at the entrance road!  It had the familiar circle with a line through it for cars, trailers, etc.  Hmmpfh!  Luckily, I got out and took a closer look at this new sign.  Aha!  It only said ‘not recommended’ for the above types of vehicles.  It makes sense because just past my site in both directions there were nasty little dips through washes, only suitable for jeeps or horses!  But since I was there in the spring, I knew there was enough room for me (to turn around), but not enough space to allow for noisy or unwelcome neighbours!
Could have used the extra space, as a friend from back home showed up with his 5th wheel after attending a trade show in Vegas.  Found him a spot a half mile away.  Took him one day over to the Jedi Transition (google it), but no planes were seen.  Nice day though.
I had been monitoring the progress of Kevin & Ruth as they seemed to be following the same route as me – from the California coast across to the Reno, Nv area, then their first trip down the 395.  They stopped by the Alabama Hills for a quick overnight and a hike before resuming their trip towards Mexico, eventually.
With my truck no longer concerned about the hills in Death Valley, that was the way we headed out.  Surprisingly, we caught up to them at the Jedi Transition.  This time however, there were a number of aircraft blasting through the narrow canyon below the viewpoint!
After the impromptu air show we took the steep winding downhill into Death Valley, followed by a couple of extended climbs, all of which were handled with ease by the big GMC.  
Price of diesel in Panamint Springs in Death Valley - $5.79/g  We didn't even slow down!  Compare that with $3.23/g in Pahrump, Nv!
Departing the park, we found a very nice abandoned RV park thanks to Don & Donna for an overnight stop.  It is known as the ‘Pads’, and it looks like an extensive RV park with concrete slabs to park on, widely separated, and good scenery all around.
It’s right close to the highway, but far enough away that noise is not a factor.  The roads are paved, and the sites are concrete!  It appears to be a cellular-free zone, so I set up my satellite internet system to stay connected.vlcsnap-2018-11-18-19h24m47s464Kevin & Ruth pulled in just after us and were back on the road early in the morning.
Like them we crossed over into Nevada in the morning for some cheaper fuel and propane in Pahrump.  While they continued to towards Vegas, we doubled back into California at Shosone, and then on down south to Baker.  South of the I-15 at Baker is the Mojave National preserve. We have found some pretty ideal spots (for us) not too far into the preserve.
IMG_0559There is a nice rock pile for hunting opportunities!
IMG_0560IMG_0562Nothing to do with Hailey, but I found a dead kangaroo rat just laying in a wash while on a hike in the area.
I think this must be a tortoise burrow/den, but in spite of a flashing warning sign on the highway, none were spotted.
I found a few of these round balls laying in a wash.  The first one, I thought it might be a plastic ball someone had lost, but I finally found the source bush!IMG_0576
One of Hailey’s playmates.IMG_5134
McDonalds appears to be bribing customers for good reviews …
Walmart, on the other hand, appears to have shoplifting warnings (?) in Spanish only in the washroom.  Looked all over, but didn’t find one in English!IMG_0555