Surprises are good

Superstition Mountain I love it when life brings a surprise, especially good ones, surprises without drama, unless it is just the drama of the landscape.  Last week when we arrived in Phoenix at the Royal Palm, life did just that.  As I wrote previously, on Wednesday afternoon we read about the fifteen best things to do in Phoenix, and didn’t even finish reading the list when we decided to travel the Apache Trail, Arizona Highway 88.  I wonder how many bloggers pored over those old Arizona Highways magazines as much as I did in my youth.  I would read every story, ogle every red rock photo of Sedona in awe, wonder at the flowers in the desert.  Today reminded me of an Arizona Highway day.

downtown Goldfields Getting out of Phoenix, however, takes a fairly long time.  The huge valley is wide and sprawling, with freeways bisecting the city and Highway 60 taking off toward the east and Apache Junction.  After many miles of hot desert, we arrived in Apache Junction, another sprawling metropolis populated with RV’s and what are actually called “Travel Trailer Parks”.  The community has been high on the list of places to be for snowbirder’s, maybe just a hair below Quartzite in the winter.  We only traveled through, with the Apache Highway as our destination.

Long before we reached the town, however, the mythical Superstition Mountains rose against the eastern sky. Highway 88 is a pleasant 2 lane highway, with the actual mountain itself on the eastern edge of town.  Before we had traveled any distance at all, suddenly there appeared what seemed to be some kind of ghost town.  We whipped around to get back to the entrance.  Sure, it was probably a fake, and probably very commercialized, but it looked fun, and the buildings looked really old and authentic.

great lemonade on a hot afternoon The built up commercialized town of Goldfields didn’t disappoint us one bit.  Especially when we found the tall glasses of frozen lemonade to ward off the afternoon heat.  I had a bit of a time tracking the history of the town, but eventually found out that it was indeed a real ghost town, where many of the buildings were reconstructed, but much of the machinery was from the original town.

After wandering around and enjoying the views, be again got on the Apache Trail heading east toward Roosevelt Lake.  When  I say the day was a surprise, it was because I had never heard of the Apache Trail until a casual mention by Wes last week asking if we had driven that road.  Here is a quote from Theodore (not Franklin!) Roosevelt: “The Apache Trail combines the grandeur of the Alps, the glory of the  Rockies, and the magnificence of the Grand Canyon, and then adds an indefinable something that none of the others have. To me it is the most awe-inspiring and most sublimely beautiful panorama nature has ever created.”  Well, coming from Teddy, one of my favorite historical heroes, it must be really something, since he explored so much of the world and saved so much of it for our viewing pleasure.

Apache Trail (28) Initially the road was paved, two lane highway, a bit winding, and steep in places, but not unmanageable.  As we continued east, however the vistas got bigger, the canyons deeper, the colors brighter.  After taking many photos of blooming cactus and distant mountains, we reached the unpaved portion of the road.  Another 22 miles were ahead of us before we again would travel on pavement at Roosevelt Lake.  I have to say that Roosevelt Lake was another surprise, since in all the blogging about the world of Arizona, I don’t remember ever even hearing of this place. 

Apache Trail (43) I think it took us about 7 hours to traverse the entire route to Globe and connect again with Highway 60, and it was enchanting every single moment.  The most exciting moment was rounding a steep long curve and seeing the face of the Theodore Roosevelt Dam looming right in front of us above Apache Lake.  I somehow had no clue there was a dam there, although a closer inspection of my maps would have shown them.  All that water in the desert, silly, of COURSE there is a dam there, and a big one.  This dam was built of bricks, yes bricks, and is the largest masonry dam in the country, probably because they don’t do that any more.  It was started in 1903 and completed in 1911, and the Apache Trail then became a tourist route for scenic drives.  Can you imagine those old cars on this road??

Mar 30 Apache Trail Once beyond the dam, the beautiful vista of Roosevelt Lake opened up before us, with the Roosevelt Bridge framing the view.  Another wonder, this bridge was built to route traffic across the lake so that repairs could be made to the dam.  Someone said that the dam is almost always in some state of disrepair and repair.  The graceful bridge is listed among the 12 best in the United States, along with the Golden Gate and the Brooklyn Bridge. Again on pavement, we traveled quickly east past the Tonto National Monument, too late to go up the road behind locked gates and view the cliff dwellings, another surprise, since I hadn’t heard of this place either.  Arizonan’s will probably think I must have been under a rock to miss all this, but in all my years of traveling the southwest, I never learned of these places.  What a treat to find an unknown world right under my nose.

Mar 30 Apache Trail1 I wished for more time to go into the visitor centers, to see the cliff dwellings, to learn more about the building of the road and the dam.  We intersected Highway 60 about 3 miles west of Globe, and it was almost dark, so the scenic highway was merely fantastic silhouettes and shadows as we hurtled down the steep canyon back to the great salty valley that is home to Phoenix. Once again on the freeway, we were subjected to the erratic, speed demon fast, pass you in the right lane going 80 kind of traffic that seems to be the norm around Phoenix.  Once again we drove into a dark campground and found the cat waiting patiently on the dash, meowing at us indignantly.

It was a great day of driving and short hikes taking photos, and being back in the wild world of the Arizona desert mountain landscape.

Eventually the internet will smile on me and I will have a connection that will allow me to upload the photos to Picasa.  For more vistas of the highway, check here.

Anza Borrego State Park and Coyote Canyon

As expected, I took nearly 200 photos, if you want to check them out here.

morning from the MoHo Our rig faces northeast, with an open view of the mountains past the low lying, almost invisible buildings of Borrego Springs.  Watching the morning sun stream in the windows, listening to all the birds, sipping morning tea in all that desert light was delightful.  The day stretched ahead, with predicted temperatures in the 70’s and clear skies until late afternoon, when a bit of wind and showers could appear. 

We knew that the park was huge, with miles and miles of dirt roads, some we could manage, and others maybe not.  We also knew hiking is something we love but not sure where we could go with Abby.  So first stop on the agenda was the main Anza Borrego State Park Visitor Center, just a hop up the road from where we are staying here at the Holiday Borrego Mobile Home Park.  After a couple of nights near freeways and truck stops, the silence and darkness of Borrego Springs makes for amazing restful sleeping.  In fact, Borrego Springs is listed as one of only two “dark sky” communities, and one of the ten best places for viewing the heavens in the United States. 

Anza visitor center (5) The visitor center is beautifully done, with interesting displays, excellent volunteers providing information about where flowers are blooming, what roads are passable, where the sheep are located, and yes, where we could walk with Abby.  All park roads, dirt or paved, but no trails.  I especially enjoyed the geologic maps and prehistory of the area.  There is so much to see here, and after buying a hat for Mo and a tee shirt for me, (oh my, will it end up in a quilt someday?  I just can’t seem to resist those gorgeous park tee shirts.), we walked around the lovely naturally landscaped grounds before embarking on our chosen journey.

Anza visitor center (10) Coyote Canyon seemed to be the best choice, with many flowers in bloom right now after the rains.  There were several people in the center, many of whom had only two wheel drive vehicles, but with our little Tracker we thought we could manage at least some of the 4 wheel drive routes.

The road north from Borrego into the park is straightforward, that is until the prehistoric animals start to appear.  I recently saw photos of these critters on another blog, but it still didn’t prepare me for the surprise.  With the sponsorship of Dennis Avery, a Borrego Springs philanthropist,  the Mexican artist Ricardo Arroyo Breceda has created amazingly intricate and detailed iron sculptures that appear as though they just emerged from the landscape as it was a couple of million years ago during the Pliocene, Pleistocene, and Miocene eras.  We hope to explore other areas of the park where fossils of this time period have been found, but today our journey was into the granite batholiths of the San Ysidro Mountains along Coyote Creek.Mar 23 Coyote Canyon1 

When the park says 4×4, high clearance, they mean it.  Although that can mean two different things.  We saw sedans crawling along the sandy wash road with success, and then we saw them turn around at “first crossing”.  The Tracker made quick work of that one, and on to “2nd crossing” without a hitch.  Good little Tracker.  We saw a few Jeeps, real ones, not the SUV kind of Jeep, with explorers heading for the deeper reaches of the canyon, but when we reached “3rd crossing”, we decided it might be prudent to check it out and walk.  We wanted a good hike today anyway, and this was perfect. 

Coyote Canyon (13) Park volunteers warned of soft sand, but it wasn’t a bit of a problem for the Tracker
Coyote Canyon (25) This was second crossing, still no problem for the Tracker, even though there are some good sized rocks hidden in that foot deep water
Coyote Canyon (27) We started walking at third crossing, where the road followed the creek, but had no real clue just what was ahead of this part

Coyote Canyon (32) Third Crossing was a bit of a surprise, since it followed the path of Coyote Creek, quite full after the recent rains.  As we walked (and Abby swam) along the road, we came upon a young man walking back checking for parts that might not be as deep as others.  He had driven across, but it was up to his tail pipes and he wanted to avoid an engine cutting out.  We watched him plow back through the water and thought, “Good Luck!”

Continuing on with our hike, we noticed a trail of oil running down the center of the road.  UhOh.  Wonder if he knows he broke something.  Then as we hiked up a couple of very steep very rocky grades, we knew that 4×4 definitely means something other than even a little 4 wheel drive Coyote Canyon (37)Tracker in some parts of this park.  We hiked high enough above the Lower Willows area to look down into Collins Valley and up the wild open distance of Upper  Coyote Canyon.  We didn’t make it as far as the hike into Sheep Canyon or Salvador Canyon with it’s hidden palms.  In fact when we looked at our excellent purchased park map, it looked as though we just barely tapped into the wild distance of Coyote Canyon.  The best part about all this was the perfect hiking temperatures, and the fact that Abby could be with us, and enjoy the refreshing stream.  Not often you see and hear burbling water in the desert.

Coyote Canyon (40) Once back to the car, and driving out, we saw many more vehicles, some parked having picnics, another big rough jeepy tour thing with six folks hanging on for dear life as he dropped down into third crossing.  We wondered just how it might feel for those folks bouncing around in the back of the open jeep when they started up the steep bouldery road into Collins Valley. 

This park whetted our appetite for a lot more.  Like many others who come here, we looked at each other and said, “This place calls for at least a month in the winter” .  We want to come back and explore so much more.  Before settling in to our home, we drove around some of the neighborhoods around town.  There is a stillness here, even in town, that is so rare in the desert any more.  It  reminds me of the California desert I knew as a kid, before the sprawling thing happened to Lancaster and Palmdale and Palm Springs.  The buildings are low, there are no stop lights, no big box stores, very few stores at all, although we did find the ice cream store on the way back to camp. We loved the way homes here are scattered about the desert in a pleasing manner, that feels as though they emerged naturally.

It’s much different than the overgrown trashy desert rat kind of desert that is becoming the rule rather than the exception.  Looking out over the landscape here, we saw no trash, none anywhere.  From the quiet dirt roads around town, the desert vistas expand all around in all directions, clean and clear and silent.  It is all that I dream of when I dream of desert in winter.  It’s a place to soothe the soul and quiet the spirit.

Mar 23 Coyote CanyonAfter putting together a great supper with some of that pulled pork I made before we left, we enjoyed sitting out behind our rig on the edge of the park watching the light play on the mountains.  Our plans were to leave for the Tucson area Thursday morning, but that just seemed silly.  “What is the rush, I said? Why don’t we stay here one more night and take some time tomorrow to go find some of the places we couldn’t see today?” Mo was up for that idea, and we went to bed with the great feeling that the next day would be relaxed and fun, and we would have time to go find all those “points of interest” that we saw on the park map.

Travel decisions and Grizzly Creek State Park

CG near Juneau As we were driving over the winding mountain roads on Saturday, there was plenty of time to talk about all sorts of things.  Among the conversations was the one often repeated, “So, we have at least ten good years of travel, right? When are we going to do the AlCan?”.  When Mo bought the first MoHo back in 2005 she was already urging me to think about retiring so that we could take that famous road.  Mo has some great photos of her first trip north in 1974 in a little Scout with some built in boxes on top to carry supplies.  She scanned all the faded, slightly scratchy slides a few years ago, and we look at them and laugh at the stories about mosquitoes while thinking about that future trip someday in the MoHo.

The result of these conversations was a decision.  We are embarking north around June 15th.  Tunnel Mtn CG_BanffOne of the quandaries of this time of year for traveling is how much we love where we live in the summer.  Not many places in the world prettier than Crater Lake and Recreation Creek in July, but Alaska is waiting and we aren’t getting any younger.  I certainly don’t want to go there in the spring or fall, although I have heard some folks say that the road is actually better when it is frozen.  Nah, I’ll take the mosquitoes and the cloudy skies over dealing with serious cold weather in the MoHo.  I have read enough horror stories over the last few weeks of folks dealing with all the cold in the southern part of this country this year to know better. I am excited, to say the least.  It is an epic trip, one for the bucket list, and I don’t want to miss it.

In the mean time, we will enjoy this week in what turned out to be foggy California and prepare for a hopefully warmer foray down to sunny Arizona in March for three weeks of desert time. 

morning in Grizzly Creek SP California On our way here, we stopped overnight at a sweet little state park along Highway 36.  In the gloomy evening, with fog dripping from the redwoods and no one around, it didn’t seem like much.  With morning, however, in spite of the gloomy skies, the park revealed some of it’s delights. 

Grizzly Creek State Park is located along the Van Duzen River on a place that has been used for rest for more than 150 years.  Before that it was a lodging spot for the local tribes, rich with salmon, berries, and shelter. And yes, lots of poison oak, my particular bane of traveling in California.  In 1946 it was established as a state park, and the amenities reflect this heritage.  I didn’t see evidence of the CCC, but the visitor center is an old shingle building with a lot of character and the fire pits are old stone structures that speak of a long history of happy families and the days of car camping.

morning fishin on the foggy Van Duzen River We had the entire park to ourselves on this Sunday morning, except for one lone fisherman who walked in from the highway to catch some of the salmon that still run on this river.  Encouraging. There was one lone employee in the park office, and he said this park isn’t likely on the list of California park closures because it stands alone in the area.  We discussed the ridiculously high California State Park camping rates and laughed about how silly it was.  They keep trying to increase revenue and instead, most RV’rs avoid them like the plague because of the high cost.  He then told us about the Van Duzen County Park just 4 miles down the road that looked very much the same, with river frontage and nice sites for $25.00 a night.  No wonder the state park was empty. When we left, we passed the park, but missed the turn, so didn’t try to turn around on the narrow winding road to check it out.  I guess that is why we have internet.  I’ll go research it for the next time we come this way.

these old campfire ovens are in the picnic day area I was still glad we stayed there, just to contribute our fair share to the economy of California and the state park system.  I wish California would recognize that these state parks are the true legacy of the state and assign lottery funds to support them the way Oregon has done.  I don’t know of any state that has better state parks than Oregon.

The hushed forest was lovely, and I even found a vanilla leaf in bloom at the base of a huge redwood. 

Vanilla leaf in bloom on February 6thThis morning we are in the Humboldt County Fairgrounds, at Fernwood.  As Laurie said, it’s flat, especially where we are parked on the pavement at the edge of the park, just outside the fence, with our water and electric pedestal in easy reach.  The camp host suggested this spot and it is perfect.  There is a dump on the fair property and we are getting a few more channels on the TV this morning.  Fox comes in the best, so we watched the game yesterday and enjoyed a quiet day in the MoHo since the fog never lifted the entire day.

Another amazing little perk is free, fast WiFi.  I’m not sure how it happened, but I plugged in my booster that I bought in Desert Hot Springs, and up came a connection to Frontier with no password requirement.  The guy who sold me this little gadget told me that I could pick up connections up to two miles away in some areas. I know its unsecured, so am careful, but it’s great to be connected.  I am trying to complete my stories of my cruise and get them posted, ( by the actual date so they only show up in the January archives), uploading photos, and cruising the internet with abandon.  Gotta love it.

Today we planned to kayak the Eel River Estuary, but looking out at the drippy, cold fog, we have decided to go exploring instead.  The Co-Op in Eureka has some great goodies, and we haven’t yet seen Fortuna.  Of course, the organic white cheddar cheese and home made roasted pineapple salsa awaits at the Loleta Cheese Factory.  I guess sometimes it’s a good thing to return to places we have enjoyed previously.

The rest of the photos of the park are here.

Silver Falls State Park Day 1 and Day 2

Photos for the entire trip are here.
Oregon is all about water.  Currently on the east side, where we live, there is a drought.  The Klamath Basin has been at the center of the water conflict in the west for several years now.  Even with all the extra April snows, we are still facing a serious drought this summer.  The west side of the state is also about water.  Lots of it.  Oregon is famous for it’s rain and verdant green mountains and valleys.  Oregon is also famous for its waterfalls, and we spent a long weekend enjoying one of the prime spots in the state for enjoying some of those waterfalls. 
Silver Falls State Park is the largest state park in Oregon, with almost 9,000 acres of magnificent temperate rain forest. Towering Douglas-fir and western hemlocks dominate the park, with a vast array of moist woodland plants, meadows, creeks and wildlife.  In addition, there are more than 25 miles of lovely trails. The highlight of these trails is the “Trail of Ten Falls” that meanders around the North and South Forks of Silver Creek and connects to the park’s ten main waterfalls.  For us, another highlight of this park is the fact that a large portion of these trails are multi-use trails that are dog friendly.  Another delight and destination for us was the town of Silverton, home to the Oregon Garden and the Oregon Garden Brewfest, just 15 short miles north of the park.  I had heard about this park, even knew some friends who were married there, and yet this was my first time to visit.

Retired to Easy StreetWhen we left Rocky Point on Friday morning, the skies were clear and the air was warm.  It’s been awhile since I have been in such brilliant sunshine and blue skies and it felt wonderful to be finally on the road again in the MoHo.  Even though February was sunny and lovely, April brought a lot of snow and cold, cloudy days to us, so this was a delight.  Traveling the route that we often take to the north, we drove north on the West Side Road along the base of the Cascades, crossed the gorgeous Wood River Valley to Highway 97, and crossed the mountains over Willamette Pass.  Thinking a side route would be interesting, we left Interstate 5 just north of Albany to wander across the broad eastern portion of the Willamette Valley before beginning the surprising climb to the park. 

04272010_travelcat (3)Western Oregon is magnificent at this time of year, with dogwoods, azaleas, and rhododendrons coming into full bloom at the lower elevations.  Once at the park, however, spring was just beginning, and the maples had only the tiniest of leaves on the tips of their branches.  Our crystal clear skies also gave way to the predicted clouds as we set up our camp in space 58 in the A loop.  We managed to plan our trip for the weekend when a convention of “fiberglass trailers” had taken over most of the park.  We made reservations a couple of months ago and were still unable to snag a site with hookups.  We knew it would be so, and were prepared with plenty of gas in the MoHo, and a full tank of propane and fresh water. 

Once settled in, we took a walk around the campground, admiring all the cute little Casita’s, Burro’s, and other unnamed tiny little homes, all hooked up to power.  Some of them looked barely long enough to stretch out full length in bed, but they were really delightful for folks with small cars who just wanted to get up off the ground, and camp in comfort.  A nice step up from a tent, especially in rainy Oregon!  As with almost everything else nowadays, there seems to be a culture and club for these trailers, and people were standing around in groups visiting and sharing and showing off their homes.
The printed maps for the park are a bit vague and it took awhile to get good bearings.  Abby enjoyed her walk along the trail to the dog area, a huge grassy unfenced open meadow where dogs are allowed to run free off leash.  On this cloudy Friday evening there were very few people around and we had the trail almost completely to ourselves.  We were rewarded at the northern part of the paved trail with a magnificent view of South Falls, something that surprised me since I thought miles of hiking was required for actual falls views. It was a great walk, and then back to camp for a delicious favorite soup brought from home and a great campfire. The rain held off until bedtime, with the patter on the roof gentle and soft.  I so appreciate the MoHo in weather like this.  I love being cozy and warm and DRY!

Silver_Falls (8)Silver_Falls (4)On Saturday morning we woke to a gray and misty sky and after a light breakfast took Abby for another long walk.  This time we parked at the Winter Falls Trailhead, where dogs aren’t allowed on the trail, but the adjacent Rim Trail parallels the canyon and is dog friendly.  The trail is well maintained, winding through the mossy forest. 

Our focus on this day was the Oregon Garden Brewfest, held at the 80 acre site of the Oregon Gardens, just four miles west of Silverton. The skies again were a mix of brilliant sunshine and very dark clouds, with rain coming and going throughout the day. Once at the gardens, we found the pavilion for the brewfest, and walked in to a very surprising display of brewers and people already enjoying finely crafted beers.  With our 2010 Tasters Guide in hand, we wandered around a bit before settling in to find just the taste we wanted among the many descriptions of available brews.  My favorite was the Calapoolia Brewing Co. from Albany where my daughter often played with her band  when she lived in Albany.  A good friend of mine, Chris Savastio from Sonora, told me once about a fabulous chili beer he tasted in New Mexico.  So of course, I had to try the chili beer.  It ruined me for the rest of the show because the Calapoolia version of chili beer was so good I didn’t want to waste my tickets on anything else!  However, I did break away once and tried the Block 15 Nebula, Naked Oat Stout.  The description from the guide hooked me: “A contemplative brew with notes of fresh coffee, dark chocolate, and caramel with a velvety brown head.  Golden naked oats provide a sweet-nut flavor and a smooth satiny finish” .  Beer?  really??  It was fabulous actually.  Mo stuck to pale ales and wrinkled her nose at my chili and chocolate beers.  Mo likes good simple food and wants things to taste like what they actually are, aka, beer should taste like beer not chocolate!

Silver_Falls (27)We took a break in the outdoor garden, trying to avoid the rain, and then walked around the gardens.  We got rained on just a bit, and then the sun would burst forth in brilliant light, illuminating the blossoms and sparkling on the raindrops.  The gardens are amazing, with more than 20 different theme gardens overlooking the Willamette Valley.  The conifer garden is the jewel of the park, and is listed as the premier conifer garden for the Western United States for the American Conifer Society.  The garden is maintained by a volunteer who was very informative, making sure that I knew that it was a “conifer” garden and not an “evergreen” garden, stating emphatically that the garden contained 5 species of conifers that were deciduous. Dwarf conifers are an amazing group of plants, with many varieties that are not often included in everyday landscaping.  Another bonus to the Oregon Gardens is that they are also dog-friendly.  They encourage you to bring your leashed dog and to enjoy the paths and especially the special “pet garden” that displays how to create a pet friendly place and what plants are safe for your pet.  After our stroll, we returned to enjoy more tastings and good food.  Mo had a bratwurst with onions and sauerkraut on a nice roll and I had a truly excellent salmon burger, dressed with coleslaw on a sourdough bun.  Yum! 

Silver_Falls (51) Silver_Falls (48) Once back home at camp, we took another walk on a park trail through old growth firs, meadows, and a meandering creek. It was a delightful day, capped off again by a huge campfire and a great supper of spaghetti and garlic bread.  Yum.  Early evening at the campsite brought out the sun for a bit and the night was clear and cool without being too cold. 

Day 2 through 6 Wandering the desert

Saturday March 21
Route: south on I-5 to 138, hwy 14 to hwy 18
Photos are here at Picasa, Mo and the MoHo in the Desert

Digital Desert Mojave is a really great website for the Mojave Desert. If you plan on traveling there, it’s worth perusing at length. It is filled with detailed information about the landscape, rock formations, and documents the flow of bloom in the desert. After reading about the Antelope Valley Poppy Preserve and the promise of gorgeous displays, Mo decided to go there. It was a bit early in the season, but the photos show it can be lovely in spite of fewer flowers in full bloom. Another site along the way is Mormon Rocks, worth a stop and a look if you have the time.

Mo continued on to the southern entrance of Joshua Tree National Park. Arriving late on a Saturday afternoon meant that she was really lucky to get the very last campsite available in the Cottonwood Campground, and it took a bit of jockeying to fit the MoHo into that space, even at only 26 feet. When we got this rig, we were thinking that we wanted to be long enough to be comfortable, yet short enough for tight NP spaces.
On Sunday morning the weather was perfect for a day exploring Joshua Tree, enjoying the cholla and ocotillo gardens, and all the amazing granite formations. The park has several routes in and out, and Mo had to exit and then go back in on Hwy 62 to get to the Blackrock CG which is large with many available spaces on this spring Sunday evening. These camps have water only, so it isn’t exactly dry camping, but almost. The JOTR website is filled with information about routes, ecology, camping, and hiking information.

Monday morning Mo left the park, following historic route 66 a few miles before going north on Amboy road to Amboy, then north again to Kelso in the Mojave National Preserve. At Kelso there is a nice visitor center in the historic Depot, but Mo thought that perhaps the preserve wasn’t very old since there wasn’t a great deal of interpretive information in the area other than the depot. After a day of wandering, taking lots of flower photos, and enjoying the desert, Mo camped at the Sunrise Rock Roadside CG in the Preserve. It was again dry camping, with no water, but the hiking area was wonderful and Abby enjoyed the views as well.

Leaving the Preserve on Tuesday morning, Mo traveled north into Death Valley. The flower show was still minimal this far north, so she went on to Tecopa, checking out the hot springs and campground for future reference, and visiting the Dumont Dunes ATV site. After some more wandering,she headed for the Flying J at Barstow, hoping to repeat her boondocking experince from the previous Sunday. Once there, however, she was overwhelmed with the noise and huge number of trucks at this major desert crossroads, and decided instead to head for Kramer Junction at the intersection of 395 and 58. There is a huge solar generating station here that you can see for miles. After settling in for a pleasant evening at a great little wayside with other rv’rs, she discovered to her dismay that a sewage plant was nearby and little whiffs from the fragrant ponds made it less than pleasant.

On Wednesday, the 25th, with just one more day until our scheduled meeting, Mo headed back north on 395 to Inyokern to check out the active ghost town of Randsburg. There were many old buildings in use by small businesses making an attempt at survival in the tourist trade. Back south to Red Rock Canyon State Park and CG where the cliffs are lovely for hiking and climbing through the rocks and canyons.