Thursday, November 28, 2019

Attempted Break-in in Mojave National Preserve

Fellow camper in the Alabama Hills

After about a week in the Alabama Hills above Lone Pine, Ca, it was time to move on.
But first, a bit more exploration was in order.  There was an old road leading down to Lone Pine creek at the base of the road leading up to Whitney portal.  So we got airborne for a few looks around.
Looking back towards Lone Pine and the Owens valley

It took a long time to decide where to head next, but south was the only given.  We continued down to join highway 58 at the Kramer Jct.  I always hated the section of road from there to Barstow as the road was largely two lane, very rough, and busy with trucks all trying to make a mile.  But now, most of the road has been upgraded, 4-laned, and even fairly smooth with some concrete sections.  More decisions to make in Barstow after another fill up.  We needed some propane as well, and soon found Silver Valley Propane near the new Walmart.  Only problem with Silver Valley Propane, is that they don't fill propane bottles!
After back tracking to U-haul we got one filled, but they wouldn't fill the second one as it has expired!   Most places south of the line don't even check, o well.  Back on the road we headed eastward for an hour on I-15 towards Vegas.  As usual, we exited at Baker and entered the Mojave National Preserve.  The spot I was aiming for was occupied, but it was late in the day, so we just parked nearby and went in search of a more private spot in the morning.  After looking at a couple of previously used spots, we chose a quiet spot a mile away.

Like many areas of the south west, it's previous uses seeemed to include garbage dump, party spot or shooting gallery.  I easily managed to fill a pail with broken glass that was everywhere.  I took it to the transfer station just outside Baker, and also asked about recycling.  Got a pretty much blank look from the attendant there who told me I was welcome to drop off my recycling there - but it would just go into the trash!  Thanks for that, very helpful.  Being a bit of a rebel, I called the 1-800 number on the bottom of the big sign, but the number was 'not available from that area'!  I guess I could give Brad a call?  I always thought that California was a leader in environmental initiatives (letting me know that almost everything I touch is known in Californa to cause cancer), but from the amount of trash I see blowing around, and the fact that not one driver seems to turn off their engine when stuck in an extended line-up during construction, I'm not so sure?
Last spring my 'activism' did get me a letter of apology from the head of CalTrans, after I pointedly explained how their road closure signs were blatantly misleading and deceitful. ;-)

We had an attempted break-in of my truck one afternoon as I was out hiking.  The perpetrator was still there as I returned from a nearby hike, but promptly departed upon my approach!  My high-tech security system did capture photos of the attempt.  Beware, if you see him (her?) in your area!
I think he was seeing his reflection in the window, and was doing his best to drive off what he thought was a trespasser in his territory!  There was lots of bird poop on the truck mirror, attesting to the time spent in the attack!

We had a nice little thunderstorm the next night, resulting in many of the small washes running full, but it was all at night, so didn't get to see much of the action, just the aftermath.

Weather forecasts were all saying that a huge storm was coming across the SW, with large accumulations of snow in the high country, with wind, rain, and plunging temperature almost everywhere.  I looked all around, even as far as Texas for a warm area, but there was nothing inviting.  Nevertheless, I knew that getting to an area with as low an elevation as possible would help with the cold temperatures.  Hailey and I debated our next destination, with her curled up on the bed, pretending to sleep and ignore me!  Lake Mohave won the lottery of preferred locations, so after another hour eastward on I-15, we cut across to Searchlight, Nv, and down to the lake.  Having endured bone-jarring washboard on the road down to Six Mile cove last year, I left Hailey and the rig roadside and went on a scouting mission.  We hit Mid-Basin cove, Tamarisk cove, 9 Mile cove, and Nellis cove. 
Mid-Basin cove

Mid-Basin Cove

Mid-Basin cove

Tamarisk cove

9 Mile cove

Nellis Cove
Although all the locations were somewhat appealing, most of the access roads followed washes or were crossed by multiple washes, all of which could leave you marooned or worse after the predicted rains and flash flood watch.  Plus, the main access along the Powerline road had it's share of rough spots and a few sharp hill-tops that I'm pretty sure would be impossible to navigate with the 5th wheel, even if you were willing to endure miles of washboard, sand, and sharp rocks.
Reluctantly, we hooked up again and headed for Fort Mohave.  Although we had spent over a month camped there last December, basically going to the vet every second or third day, neither Hailey nor I wanted to visit them this time.  So, after an overnight view spot overlooking Laughlin, we continued on southward, skipping through Lake Havasu, Parker, and Quartzsite.  A ways south of Quartzsite, we pulled off into one of our usual locations, and found a nice spot near a wash, with no one within a mile or so.  It is about as low elevation as one can get in these parts, so it is here we chose to hunker down and sit out any challenges the weather has to throw at us.  Something tells me, nothing here can compare to the -20C temps around home about now.

 Hailey made friends with this cute little tarantula, but I hope she wasn't responsible for him (or her!) being a 7 legged arachnid!

Not too crowded here, just to my liking!

Happy Thanksgiving to all the American readers!

Saturday, November 16, 2019

After spending about a week on the California and Oregon coasts, it was unfortunately time to move inland.  We spent quite a few days camped right on the coast near Westport, overlooking the ocean 24/7, but in a relatively quiet and free spot.  From there, it was a short but scenic drive south to Fort Bragg where, despite it's relative isolation, prices for fuel and propane were downright reasonable, for California at least!
We picked up highway 20 out to Willits, and after a short jog south, continued east.  Any further south would have taken us right into the Kincade fire zone in Sonoma county.  At Williams, we rather reluctantly hooked onto the I-5 down as far as Sacramento, before veering east again on 50.  Fuel was topped off at Placerville around dusk.  After encountering very heavy oncoming traffic as we climbed into the Eldorado National Forest, we managed to locate Sand Flats FS campground.  It was immediately adjacent to the highway, but the traffic noise eventually died down, as did the temperatures at that higher elevation.
To take advantage of the better prices for fuel ($3.10/g diesel) and beverages, we made a short detour northward to Gardnerville, Nv, before returning thrrough Alpine Village and Markleeville, then taking Monitor Pass back towards 395.

There are lots of wide open vistas up there, and last time through we hiked up to the now abandoned fire lookout on Leviathan Peak.  While the lookout is sadly closed, it still bristles with communications towers.
Following 395 south into the eastern sierra is very scenic and the traffic was very light, so we made it into Bridgeport in good time.  We recalled that the diesel price last year was $4.79, but it seems it has gone up just a bit!
Fortunately, the tank was full, as were my two spare fuel cans at this point.  Our destination was Travertine hot springs, just outside of town.  The road up to my preferred camp spot is rather rough, and I'd rather not do it, only to find my spot taken.  That's where the UAV (drone to some folks) comes in handy!  I sent it up to check the area, and found that sure enough, my spot was vacant.  I always try to avoid arriving on a weekend as well.

 As I was flying back down, a small class C scooted past us, but luckily did not take the best spot!

I usually head to the pools before dawn, to beat any rush, and by the time the sun comes up, it's warm enough to exit the water and air-dry!
Hailey quickly got back into re-training all the local chipmunks, and whatever real or imaginary creatures lurked under the bushes!  
We hadn't really planned to stay that long, but the long weekend snuck up on us, and I had no desire to face any increased traffic on the road, or at the next proposed stop at hot springs down near Mammoth. 
Went for what was planned to be just a short exploration up Aurora Canyon road, leading right out of Bridgeport.  But, as usual, it lured us further and further, and higher and higher, till we had a nice view back over the valley, and could see that the road seemed to join up with the Bodie - Masonic road.  The road was even fairly smooth - in a few places!  We picked up the Bodie road at the junction, and seven miles later, the ghost town of Bodie came into view.
 Bodie is now maintained as a State Park, and there is an entrance fee, but I just drove on by, heading for the highway.

 It looks like a place you could easily spend a day wandering around and taking photos.

 Although highway 270 leads directly to Bodie from the 395, the last several miles turns from nice pavement to really ugly, dusty, washboard - worse than the 4x4 roads I had arrived by.
I suspect more than a few visitors turn off the main highway, believing the road is paved all the way - but not so.

After the long weekend was over, it seeemed advisable to carry on.  Got the propane topped off in Lee Vining, and headed for the hotsprings near Mammoth.  Having just spent a week in hot water at Travertine, it was not that important to hit these springs as well.  But once again, it was decided to check out the parking and such before committing to the dusty road.  Good thing we did, too.  It turns out that the BLM have been busy maintaining and controlling the area.  The spot I usually park with my 5er is now all blocked with rocks, so that it is a turn-around only :-(  Good thing I didn't drive all the way in to discover that!

The main parking lot seems to have gained a badly need outhouse and garbage bin, so I guess overall, it's an improvement - since most of the usual campers have tents, or sleep in their cars or vans.
Trail and wooden walkway down to the pools.

Pools at Wild Willy's
 With lots of flight time available, we checked out nearby Hilltop springs on the return.  This is a fairly small, concrete tub, but the view around is 360, and there is a handy tap so you can turn the heat up and down as you like. 
 With the investigation complete, it was decided to keep on rolling down the highway to Lone Pine and the Alabama Hills.

Not my photo!
Without even flying, I could see that my usual camp spot was available, so we just pulled in and left setting up till the next day.

 Hailey found that the lizards have lost all their training, so she got right back to work keeping them properly nervous.

 I think she also enjoys the scenery of the area.

Zoom in - she's up there!

As usual, we made a day trip up to Cottonwood Meadows area, from the 4600' level in our camp to over 10,000' up at the meadows.  Previously, we hiked up to Cottonwood Pass, at over 11,000', but the wind was blowing up there and it was chilly, though sunny and nice.

There seems to be some confusion on the road up there.  Do I park on the pavement, or not?

 Same road, different signs.

 I suspect that we'll be here - until we leave!

I was hoping maybe Bayfield Al would have picked up a nice new Class C or something when Kelly was away for a few days!  But glad to see they are still keeping their eyes open for the right rig.  Hope to see them down here again soon.  And, well before Christmas I'm told the elusive Wandering Willy will be trying to sneak into somewhere in Arizona.
Maybe John & Brenda, too, as soon as their rig gets out of hospital after an unplanned encounter on their last excursion.  Glad no one was hurt.
Till next time!