Saturday, April 20, 2024

Heading North! - Intruder at the door 4 AM!

Last post had us camped near Apple Valley, California.  We attempted to get into Deep Creek Hot Springs in the San Bernardino National Forest, but were thwarted by a deep water river crossing.  Weather forecast was for some rain and cooler temperatures, so the decision was made to seriously start the northward migration :-(.

From Apple Valley we headed northward, up to join Hwy 58 west towards Bakersfield.  Heavy fog greeted us, coming down out of Tehachapi pass.  Mr Bailey seems to have figured out that being on my lap is his preferred travel position.  But I got to hear his first ever hiss while looking out the side window.  There was a steep hillside with a big windmill on top.  I think the big blade coming down towards him was the cause?

Our preferred route would have taken us more or less straight west of Bakersfield to the coast, but luckily, a quick check for road conditions showed that once again, a section of highway 1 was sliding into the ocean, and the repair was expected to take months :-(  So the road was closed, and that direction was out of the question.

Image of convoys passing through northbound Highway 1 at the slip out south of Rocky Creek Bridge on March 31. 

 (not my photo)

So the alternative was to keep heading north on Highway 99, or I-5.

Weather was grey and cool with showers, so after another fill up in Fresno, and not really wanting to overnight in a rest area or a Walmart, we just kept on making miles northward. Sacramento was the next to pass on the long day of travel. Eventually, we made it to Cowboy Camp, which is a scenic little BLM camp spot kind of in the middle of nowhere.  There was no cell service, and it was cold, compared to what we were used to, so the heat was definitely on for the night.

In the morning we spotted the resident elk herd across the valley, waiting for some morning sun to warm them.

We cut across past Clear Lake to Willits, and from there to the coast near Fort Bragg.  The weather gods were smiling on us now, and there are quite a few 'unsigned' waterfront parking spots along that section, so we took advantage and spent a few days with Bailey's first views of the ocean!  Because they are not camp spots by definition, we never unhooked, or put out the slides, and moved a few times during our week there.

One day, we saw a California Game Warden scoping out the coast for abalone poachers during a really low tide.  Being a former Conservation Officer/Park Warden myself, I went over to have a chat and see what he was up to.  Well it turns out that it was Warden Freeling, the 'star' of a plant poaching case he developed in that area a few years ago!  As a result of the case, new legislation was developed.
Check out the video here.
When traveling, one often has to make sacrifices, and difficult decisions.  Like - do we enjoy a happy hour with an ocean view and sounds of the surf, or go inside and watch a hockey game?
I figured out a way to make the best of the situation!

One night, while camped there on the coast, with the sound of surf pounding in the background, there was a bump that woke me up.  Lying there listening for a few seconds, it became clear that someone or something was on the steps and banging on the door.  It was dark outside, and there were no lights, vehicles or voices to indicate who was at the door!  I jumped out of bed and went to the door, not really prepared for anything or anybody.  I yelled something like 'Get Lost - Go Away'  There was no response.  Just silence ...  Eerie, to say the least.  Even though there are outdoor floodlights on the rig, I never ever use them, or think of them, and certainly did not know where the switches might be?  So I grabbed a hand spotlight and aimed it out various windows, but saw nothing.  No vehicles, no people, - nothing!  Being cautious, I did not go outside in the dark, and went back to bed.  Needless to say, sleep was illusive!
Morning sun arrived on schedule, so now was the time to go outside and see if there were any clues to the visitor? 
I was glad to see that the uninvited visitor had left his calling card on the door and wall! Having spent decades working with wildlife, the evidence was clear!  A curious black bear was just stopping by to say hello, and see if there were any snacks available - there weren't.
If he had not left his calling card, the mystery may have had me worrying more in the future.  As it was, I now knew exactly what had happened.  Too bad I didn't have my trail cams out at the time.
Once again, weather was the incentive to move along, and head further up the coast.
With the winter travel season rapidly coming to a close, it was time to pull out the Starlink and let it download all it's updates, etc.  Unlike most people, I have not used Starlink all winter, carrying it only as a backup.  I have a grandfathered, unlimited plan with AT+T for $23/month, which is far cheaper and more convenient.  But I do use SL at home, and on my summer travel schedule - where I am often well clear of any cell service.  It turned on fine and downloaded all it's updates, even though my service is paused.

One of my discrete overnight spots along the California coast.

Once we got 1/2 way up the Oregon coast, the homeward momentum increased.  Running through Portland on a Sunday afternoon was without any traffic woes, and we continued up the Columbia River, before heading up through Spokane, Coeur d'Alene and the border.  For the first time I'd seen at this border crossing, the US agents were checking vehicles exiting the country.  Canadian customs was quick and easy as usual, so we found ourselves back on familiar roads home.
It had been a long day, or we could have made a big push to make it all the way home, but instead found a nice river-front spot for the night.  With another bout of bad weather on the way, I decided to winterize the rig, taking advantage of relatively decent conditions.  Turns out that was a good decision!
Since there was no cell service at all, I also re-activated and set up Starlink, this time choosing the 'Residential' plan, which is cheaper, but provides faster speeds, and the requirement to change addresses when you move.
Roads in BC were fine, but upon crossing the great divide into Alberta, all bets were off.  It was almost exactly the same contrast when heading south on this route in October.
There was low visibility, snow, slush and snow covered roads, but at least no ice this time.
And there were no spun-out semis or cars in the ditch - yet!

Once again, my high security gate kept the property secure, with the addition of a chain and padlock draped over the 4x4!  Luckily, most of the over-winter snow appeared to have melted previously, and there were only a few inches of fresh stuff to contend with.

Arizona cat seeing snow for the first time!
 The brave travel kitten seemed a bit overwhelmed at first by the vast expanses (!) of a real house, having spent the majority of his life so far in an RV.  For a few hours, he hid under a bed and refused to come out!

Stopped at my mail box on the way by, and collected 5 1/2 months of mail!
Before too long curiosity got the best of Bailey, and he came out and discovered that his own food, water, scratching post, and litter box were here waiting for him.  Pretty soon he was tearing around like a possessed demon.

I think both of us will be laying low and trying to stay warm, till the summer camping season gets going!
Stay tuned.

Thursday, April 04, 2024

Lake Mohave, Lake Havasu, Joshua Tree, Apple Valley, and points to be determined.

When I last had time (!) to blog, we were camped on the beach at Nevada Telephone Cove on Lake Mohave.  Anders, Dianne, and dog Gunner were there as well.

We hiked up lower Grapevine Canyon, till big rocks blocked our way.

After that, we all moved to Standard Wash BLM area just south of Havasu City.  It appears I took exactly one photo of that spot, despite being there for about a week!

We did lots of hiking in SARA park, as well as the State Park, and visited Don & Donna where they were camped over in Craggy Wash.

We spent some time on the 'island', created when London Bridge was moved here decades ago.  Lots of small, replica lighthouses all over this area.
After Anders and Dianne left for more northerly points, I did my 'annual' hike up to Lizard Peak, on Table Mountain to enjoy the views and exercise.  There really is a table on top!

 The rock lizard, as viewed from Lizard Peak.

Things were picking up with the spring break crowd along the channel in Lake Havasu, but nothing in comparison to how I've seen it in past years.

Mr Bailey keeps growing like a weed, and seems quite content with the mobile lifestyle.

It's that time of year when it becomes necessary to start a migration northward.  Unfortunately, cold weather, wind, rain, and even snow seem to occupy all of the possible routes.  I have no desire to endure those conditions if not absolutely necessary!  With that in mind, I decided to make the best of the situation and spend some time over in the 29 Palms/Joshua Tree area.  As it turns out, Don was camped over there, while awaiting Donna's return from meetings in Canada.

Just approaching the 29 Palms area on highway 62, it appears that someone had just lost part of a load of used lumber onto the highway.  I did my best to zig zag through the debris, but didn't miss it all :-(

I continued on and pulled in beside Don in the BLM camping area north of the park.  It was rather cold and windy upon my arrival, so I didn't even unhook or put out the slides or anything.  That was lucky, as in the morning I discovered two flat tires; one each on the truck and trailer.  We fired up both our air compressors to pump them up enough to go for repairs.  I made it into Discount Tire in Yucca Valley later that day, and they were quick in repairing both tires - at absolutely no charge, as well as checking pressure in all the other tires on both rigs!

Then, back to camp.

The BLM camp area is adjacent to a very large solar facility

And, some of the residents appear to be, ahem, a bit long term!

Successfully repaired two (!) of my vacuum cleaners, despite dedicated and persistent 'help' from Bailey!

"Is that a coyote I see out the window?"

I haven't visited Joshua Tree National Park in a few years, so Don and I went for a quick tour one day.

I took these photos while we were driving, but even though it was mid-week, the place was packed with vehicles clogging up every parking lot, every roadside, with long lines at the gate trying to get in to add to the crowding!  It's certainly a beautiful spot, but with the crowds everywhere, we just kept on driving, right out the other gate :-(

When Donna arrived back, we once again had a social director - which found us at the very quaint Joshua Tree Saloon one afternoon.

The time came to pull up stakes and move on again, but as I did so, I discovered yet another flat tire on the trailer.  That makes 3 out or 4 flats on that side of the truck and trailer - due to that lumber on the road.  Once again, I pumped it up enough to get it fixed - once again at Discount Tire in Yucca Valley.

Still trying to avoid going too far north, our next stop was over near Apple Valley, with the goal of visiting Deep Creek Hot Springs again.

The view from the road shows that even here, in southern California, there is no shortage of snow in the high country!
The access to Deep Creek Hot Springs is somewhat convoluted.  Do NOT try to follow Google's routes or it will take you down some very adventurous, and possibly impassable sand/dirt roads that you will surely regret!  Once you get on Bowen Ranch Road, you will face 7 miles of washboard, ruts, rocks, washouts, and (in season) dust!  The easiest way is to pay a $5/person parking fee at the Bowen Ranch, and drive through some more water holes to the trailhead parking area.  Next, there's an hour's hike, all downhill to get to the springs.  That the 'deep' in the name.  Next, there is a cold, fast-flowing river to cross.  In the past I made it across on rocks, but no more.  Last year someone (possibly the nice folks at Bowen Ranch?) had placed an inflatable raft at the crossing, and you could stay more or less dry as you pulled yourself across on a fixed rope.

But this year, no sign of said raft.  There was a rope across the river that you could presumably hang onto. But the cold water looked chest deep, or more, and there was no way I could be sure of keeping my phone, camera, lunch, and clothes dry while making the crossing, and doing the same on the way back.  Next time, I'll bring a dry bag! I did check a few other places to cross, but they all looked pretty sketchy at best.  There was nothing much to do but head back up the long, steep trail, still carrying all the beverages that should have been consumed on site ;-(

Some others were swimming across, but I was not willing to leave all my valuables and clothes sitting in a pile on the wrong side of the river.

Looks like we are hitting the road northward, trying to go as slowly as possible, while avoiding the worst of the weather!