Sunday, November 19, 2023

Sierra Nevada Mountains in California to the Colorado River in Nevada (confused?)

With the Whitney Portal road closed between Lone Pine and Movie road in the Alabama Hills, the narrow detour route was the best route back down to the 395.  It's very scenic, but also very narrow and winding.

For the first time, we stopped to check out the options at Fossil Falls, a primitive BLM campground just off the 395.  The dry falls themselves are worth the short hike in, and the road to the trailhead parking lot isn't that bad.  But the winding road through the actual camping area is very rough, and studded with sharp volcanic rock that had me quite worried about the trailer tires, especially with the tight turns.

Nevertheless our route continued on down 395, before catching the 58 into Barstow.  Highway 58 used to be a 2 lane, rather rough, heavily traveled route, trying to combine trucks and trailers at 55, with the rest of the traffic trying to go 65 or above.  It wasn't fun.  But in the last few years, the entire section has been twinned and re-paved, so now its a relatively mellow drive.
After some fuel and supplies in Barstow the goal was to reach Baker, on the I-15.  Google had a better plan, it said, because of an apparent blockage near Barstow, and took us a ways down I-40 before cutting across on some secondary roads.  Lots of traffic doing the same thing, so I guess it was a time saver.
Our favourite spot to camp near Baker was open and available, after being closed off last year because of washed out roads.


 It is usually a very quiet spot, though depending on the wind, sometimes you can hear the distant hum of traffic on the I-15.  There was no one else camped anywhere close, and in the 4-5 days there, only a very few vehicles came by, and a Sheriff who drove in, waved, and carried on.

Despite the lack of sound usually from the Interstate, there is at least 25 miles of it within view, which creates quite the light show of headlights and tail lights at night.
Traffic on Friday nights and Sunday afternoons gets intense, as it appears that almost everyone in LA attempts to go to Vegas for the weekend!  And, that usually results in miles of stop and go traffic!
(evening shot of the westbound traffic)

I've camped in this spot or nearby quite a few times and really enjoy it.  It's close to town and the interstate, yet is very quiet, and there are lots of opportunities to hike and bike around in the vast expanses of desert and mountains.

(a very busy colony of ants)

After a number of enjoyable days in the desert near Baker, Ca, it was time to move on.  With traffic on the I-15 somewhat lighter on a week day, it was time to head for some lake time - in Nevada.

Topped off the propane and had a bite to eat in Searchlight, then headed down to Lake Mohave, within Lake Mead National Recreation Area.

There are a number of nice coves along the western shore of the lake, but the access roads can be rather rough at times, with some loose sand, and not suitable for all rigs.  Scout ahead or research before you go! (Cottonwood Cove is paved all the way)

I was pleased to find that my favourite spot was totally empty, so wasted no time getting set up and having a quick dip in the lake to cool off.  A couple more rigs arrived in the next couple hours, but even on the weekend when a few more showed up, including the expected kite boarders when it gets windy, it was still incredibly quiet, with not a single generator!  I noticed a number of Starlinks, including mine, but mine quit working as I put it on pause for the time being. I still have decent service with my hotspot and MIMO antenna on AT&T, and that is even more convenient and a lot cheaper than SL.
Had a few night time visitors, as usual.

There was also a suspected Racoon that climbed into the back of my truck - and took a big crap!  I recall that we camped here also in 2021, and I slept in my hammock, and had a band of masked night raiders come right by.  Check out the link to that post!

(View out the living room window)

See you down the road ...

Wednesday, November 08, 2023

Oregon Coast, some California coast, then over to the Eastern Sierras

 Before we get started, I think you should check out these videos, in case you missed them in my last post!


Since these videos and my last post ended while southbound on the Oregon coast, we'll pick up where we left off ...


 Except that I seem to have missed my visit to Cape Blanco in the last post !

So, I spent a bit of time wandering around the lighthouse, and down to the beach.  It was a beautiful sunny, and almost calm day, a rare day around here I'm told.

The old road up to the lighthouse is starting to cave in and slump towards the sea.


Despite Oregon DOT's attempts to fill my usual overnight spot off the 101 near Humbug Mtn with stockpiles and ditch cleanings, it still works as a fairly quiet and scenic overnight spot!


Heading into California, the usual, undisclosed location south of Eureka, provided some beach time, and a quiet place to spend the night.  (Another night time, moonlight only shot)(Can you hear the surf?)


First time I've seen pumps like this - the entire thing was one big touch-screen!  Don't love the California prices, but this station was the cheapest in the area.

From there the route was inland on highway 36 through several impressive stands of huge Redwoods, and numerous short construction delays!

We skipped over I-5 at Red Bluff and headed back into the high country near Lassen Volcanic National Park.  Found a place a bit off the highway near Westwood for the night (more moonlight photos!),

but there was a lot of early morning traffic, especially logging trucks.

After taking advantage of some cheaper fuel in the edge of Nevada, it was back into California - where the fruit police now ask 'where is your vehicle registered', for some reason?

 Getting fuel in Nevada lets one avoid the extreme prices in Bridgeport, California.


Weather was nice for a while, so a few days were spent soaking in the hot springs at Travertine.

There was some winter weather on the way, so it was time to head for lower country.  The high wind warning signs were flashing on 395, snow plows were patrolling the high passes in the rain, and it appeared like crews with signs and barricades were set up on both sides, in case the 4-8" of predicted snow arrived.  Winds were not bad, and only a few periods of rain were encountered along the way, and I never heard of any snow materializing to the rear.  Lee Vining now holds my record for the highest prices I've ever seen.  Fortunately, no fuel needed there!

We used to stop at the Whitmore hot springs near Mammoth, but they have really cut down on the places where they permit random camping now.  Regardless, we drove through the area to get an accurate update.

Stormy weather to the north, but the result was some impressive rainbow action.

 Temperatures rose nicely through the descent into Bishop, where it was sunny and warm again.
The next stop along the way was in the Alabama Hills, at Lone Pine, Ca.
This time it was especially challenging since the Whitney Portal road is closed from the edge of town, all the way up to Movie Road due to recent flood damage in August.  There is a detour, but it is extremely narrow, steep, winding with numerous blind curves, but it appears to have brand new pavement.

Admittedly, the Alabama Hills National Scenic area has suffered a lot of overuse and abuse from off-road driving, random camping without toilet facilities etc.  And the BLM has certainly made changes in an attempt to reduce and alleviate the damage.  But, in the process, they have closed off so much, it is now very difficult to enjoy such a spectacular area.  It is (was?) a very popular rock climbing area, but now the entire area where the climbers go is signed 'day use only'!  I would estimate that well over half of the historically used 'camp' spots are now signed 'no camping' or 'day use only'.  While this certainly will help to reduce the overuse and degradation, it means that any camp rig larger than a van or small Class B will now find it very difficult to find a spot to overnight.  I managed to score a couple of spots this time, partly because it is mid-week, but I think it is more because the main access road is closed.  Maybe the rest will benefit the landscape, but doubt that I will return unless I downsize substantially.

Well, that's a wrap.  The blog is officially 'up to date' for the first time in quite a while!
Don't expect this timeliness to continue ;-)