Time was running out on our 7 day stay at Nevada Telephone Cove. Don & Donna decided to head over to Death Valley for a look around as they had never been there before.
Hailey and I also had to come up with a destination, or at least a direction.
Eventually, I decided (Hailey just purrs and goes along with it) to head north up 95 on the Nevada side, at least as far as Searchlight. I wanted to head west from there, as I don’t think I have been on that section of road before. It starts out fairly bland, but gradually builds into a nice Joshua Tree forest. I didn’t discover any long term camping gems, but there were lots of roadside spots for an overnight stay, and traffic looks to be very light.
After entering California (with the required full tank of fuel!) and passing Nipton, we turned south into the Mohave National Preserve and headed down to Cima. It was a very nice, sunny warm day and it looked like there might be some attractive overnight spots right near the Cima junction, but there was no AT&T signal that I could find.
Instead of continuing on towards Kelso, we headed back north again and ran into I-15. At the first opportunity, after only about 10 minutes we exited the interstate onto Halloran Springs road. Someone was having a very bad day as just past the exit, almost under the overpass was an RV laying on it’s side and a state trooper attending the scene. Could not tell what type of rig it was as the bottom was all I could see. North of the interstate, Halloran Springs road deteriorated very rapidly, with the unfortunate accumulations of trash, building materials and the usual dryer full of bullet holes. We motored on around the holes till we were past the travel path of all but the most hardy interstate criminals, and found a scenic, quiet place to spend the night.
The spot we spent the night was not conducive for longer stays, so after a quick consultation with freecampsites.net we continued on east through Baker, and turned south on Zzyzx (that’s not a typo) Road leading back into the National Preserve. Just down the road was a large sign saying, ‘No through Road, No off-road driving, No Camping along the road.’ ! Once again a U-turn was in order, and back to Baker we went. Next we headed south on Kelbaker Road, looking for another camp spot listed on the website. In the process of looking we happened across an even better spot with tremendous 360 degree views and fast AT&T. It is a bit too close to the road, but the traffic is light during the day and nil at night.
The spot is right beside a rock pile, which provided ample opportunity for Hailey to chase the lizards.
Further back are some small peaks along a ridge which made for some good hiking, scrambling and photographic possibilities. One day was spent driving around exploring back roads in the area, including one drive up to some communications towers on a high ridge.
Views from there were superb. No other better camping spots were discovered however. Another day involved the short trip back up to Baker for fuel and a few groceries. Baker is not much more than a whistle stop along the interstate between Vegas and L.A., and the businesses reflect that. Google says the population is 735, but they have more fast food franchises than anywhere I’ve seen. Every imaginable fast food place is represented, with the notable exception of McDonalds for some reason. I believe there may be actually more than one location for Subway and a couple of other places. As expected, fuel prices are high here. As I was entering some of the prices into the Gasbuddy app, it kept questioning me asking if I was sure, as the prices seemed out of line even for California! Diesel was $4.19 at all but one station which had it on for ‘only’ $3.99. I reluctantly filled up there. There are a few convenience stores, but I had to go to two before I found one that had exotic items like milk and cereal. I asked all over town, but apparently newspapers are not available in Baker in spite of thousands of trucks passing through each day from LA and Vegas …
Another claim to fame for Baker is the world’s tallest thermometer!
On the way back to camp, we crossed this unique cattle guard!
I think I may have turned into a solar snob! I have not been plugged into shore power since leaving home in October. A few overcast days back around Thanksgiving (US) provided an excuse to give my generator a little exercise then. After another day of overcast and rain here, I decided I’d better keep the gas in it from getting too stale and actually used it again for a couple of hours! At this rate my gallon of generator gas will last till 2019!
I had been hearing reports on my scanner and in the media that a large search was underway in Joshua Tree National Park for a missing hiker who had not been heard from in about 4 days after not returning from a day hike. The search itself was moving into it’s third day, as he had been missing for a couple days before being reported overdue. I was heading down towards a friend’s place in Desert Hot Springs, so I stopped by at the Incident command post at the Interagency Fire Center in the park. I thought their staff might be getting a bit tired after several long days searching, and with my 28 years of experience in mountain rescue, perhaps I could lend a hand? I fully expected a polite rejection, but instead they gave me a nearby spot to park the rig and started the wheels turning to sign me up in some capacity. As it turned out, the very very fortunate man was found alive and injured just as I was about to begin my assignment the next morning at 0600. So instead of joining the search in the morning, we loaded up and headed on down the trail!