Thursday, November 15, 2018

Baker, California, and Mojave National Preserve

 When we headed south, from Pahrump, we took the back roads to I-15 at Baker, California. Lo and behold, the aliens answered our letters we posted in the BLACK BOX! We found them at Alien Jerky! This green man greeted us as we drove into the parking lot!
 Inside, I found my new best friend!
 Bob's new friends offered him a ride to their planet!
 Their spaceship was disguised as a store!
 We told them we had places to go and earthlings to see, so maybe next time.

As we drove away, we spotted the world's tallest Fahrenheit thermometer.
We continued our back road drive, heading south. We passed the interstate and continued on Kelbaker Road. Our journey took us to Kelso Depot in Mojave National Preserve. The depot was a hopping place during World War II as many troops heading to the Pacific passed through this depot. The tracks are still active today, but no trains stop at Kelso Depot.

As we drove through Mojave National Preserve, we could see low lying clouds in the mountains.
 The road was not bad and we didn't see many other travelers.
 Since the time change, it the sun sets around 5 p.m. We didn't want to be on the road after dark, so we found a large pull-off that would accommodate Sol and the car.
We set up camp and enjoyed our evening in the Mojave National Preserve. Yes, there are campgrounds in the preserve, but they are not along Kelbaker Road. They are farther east off I-40.
 The next morning we continued our drive....destination: Joshua Tree National Park.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Red Canyon Conservation Area and Ash Meadows Wildlife Refuge

From Pahrump, it was quite the drive to Red Canyon Conservation Area. Part of the reason was road construction about halfway there. The other was that it was about 45-50 miles! We were pleasantly surprised when we arrived. There was a nice visitor center with many outdoor activities. Bob found a friend to rest with after viewing about half of the center.
The conservation area is run by BLM (Bureau of Land Management). There is a 13 mile scenic drive through the area. The first stop on the drive is Calico Rocks. The name comes from the color of the rocks--mostly red and yellow. There is a hiking trail around the base of the rocks. This area is really crowded with tourists from all over the world.
At each stop along the drive there are several options for hiking. Bob and I chose Ice Box Canyon. The first reason was because of the cool name. The second was that it was farther along the drive and we hoped there wouldn't be as many people stopping to hike!

This is the start of the trail. The trail goes into the canyon behind Bob. From the parking lot it is a bit of a climb, but nothing compared to the end!
As we entered the canyon, the temperature dropped about 5 degrees. It felt good after being out in the sun.

The sun was shining just right to illuminate this tree on canyon wall.
Yes, this trail also involved scampering over rocks--more like boulders on this trail, especially near the end.
It was quite the view looking back out toward the entrance to the canyon.
The hike was good and there weren't too many hikers on this trail. We didn't go all the way into the back of the canyon as we were scheduled to attend a social at Pair-A-Dice and it was going to take time to get back.We got pretty close to the end of the trail. according to two college students we met coming back. We will check it out the next time we are in the area.
Once back in Pahrump, we met with other campers and compared camping stories. Most of the people we talked to were full-timers. Many of them liked to hike and told us of other places to visit.

The following day we decided to ride toward Death Valley Junction. It might as well have been a ghost town--there wasn't much there. On the way we passed the entrance to Ash Meadows Wildlife Refuge. On our return trip, we decided to check it out. It was another nice surprise! The visitor center was relatively new and very informative. Behind the visitor center was a boardwalk that led to a spring.
The gorgeous springs were filled with warm water and pupfish! Each spring had a pupfish population endemic to that spring.
We enjoyed watching the water bubble from the bottom of the spring, as well as watching the pupfish darting around the alga.
The springs are located in the desert! In this refuge, there are at least 7 springs.
This cabin belonged to quite the character in the late 1800s, early 1900s. It is built into the rock formed by minerals deposited by the spring. The back wall was the mineral wall!
Near this cabin was another spring. It is being restored since it was used for farming at one time. Farming lowers the sides of the basin allowing more invasive plants to survive.
To get to and from the cabin, you had to pass this beehive. The orange is NOT the hive, it is to the right of the orange growth. The bees were active, but they didn't mind us passing by.
Our last stop in Ash Meadows was actually a small portion of Death Valley National Park. The spring in this area is in a cave.
In the 1960s two divers who shouldn't have been in the cave drowned. Now the cave it fenced off and has many seismic detectors, water level monitors, etc. Scientists monitor water quality and they count the pupfish endemic to Devil's Hole.
 It is difficult to see the water, it is just inside the entrance to the cave. The fish live on an underwater rock shelf just inside.
There is a back entrance to the cave about .15 miles from the first entrance. It is also protected. Try as we might, we couldn't see the water at this entrance.
 We could walk all around the cage, but no place offered us a good view.
 After a pleasant visit to Ash Meadows, it was time to head back to Pahrump and decide our next plan of action.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

On the Extraterrestrial Highway

Bob and I took our time leaving Nellis AFB, as we were planning to take a leisurely drive on Extraterrestrial Highway and possibly stop at Rachel, Nevada for the night. As usual, that is not what happened. Yes, we did drive the ET highway, yes, we did stop in Rachel, but no we didn't spend the night.

Our first stop was the black mailbox. You can write a letter to an alien and mail it in this box! It looks like it is in the middle of no where....and it is!
Bob and I both sent letters, but so far we haven't gotten any replies.
 The next stop was in Rachel, Nevada, just beyond the sign for the highway.
 Of course, the restaurant was Little A'Le'Inn. Bob and I ate lunch at the Inn. He had an alien burger and I had a saucer burger. Both were very good.
 The parking lot had spots for aliens and earthlings, but you had to park your own vehicle---there was no valet.
 I think this guy parked illegally right before we arrived.
 Inside the Inn, there was anything and everything alien as well as earthling memorabilia hanging from the ceiling.
Since it was still early in the day, and we had seen ALL of Rachel, Nevada, Bob and I continued on our way to Tonopah. It would be an overnighter so we chose to stay at Banc Club Casino and Chinese Restaurant. We got Sol settled in at the casino and we headed to Tonopah Brewing Company. Besides having a beer, we added another sticker to our collection on our living room slide.

The next morning, Bob and I were in a quandary as to where we should go next. After studying the map and checking temperatures it was decided that we would head south toward Beatty, Nevada. Our plan was to fill Sol and then go into Death Valley. Well, once again we were foiled! The first gas station in Beatty had diesel, but a technician was working on the diesel pump. The only other station in Beatty only took cash or debit cards. We choose not to use debit cards when traveling and we didn't want to deplete our cash--Sol was really hungry. Soooo, we continued down the road to Pahrump, Nevada. There we found diesel for much less than in Beatty. Since the Escapee Park--Pair-A-Dice is located in Pahrump, we decided to stay for a few night. It is only for Escapee members and we are members. The park was full so we had to boondock near the office. We found brochures with ideas of things to do in the area so it was time to make some plans.

Stay tuned to read about our adventures in the next edition of Where in the USA RV!

Moving South toward Las Vegas

Saturday was moving day. We packed Sol and started our drive out of Utah toward Nevada. The first night we stopped in Beaver, Utah, at a Passport America park. Beaver Canyon Campground had a restaurant on site--Maria's Cocina--which was small, but very popular. There were only about 12 tables in the restaurant. Many people came to pick up orders. Bob and I enjoyed the Mexican food for a change.  Unfortunately for anyone traveling there after October 28, the restaurant is closed for the season! While at the campground, I also did laundry--we were parked next to the laundromat!
The following morning we began our drive to Overton, Nevada....but wait, change of plans. Connie and Larry were going to meet us there, but after checking the weather, we all decided Nellis AFB was the place to be. We would have full hook-ups there and that meant we could run our ACs! The weather for the next few days was going to be in the upper 80s--a little warm to be boondocking!

Larry and Connie had been at Nellis for a few days when we arrived. We got a site next to them on a wagon wheel! We had our own private patio between our rigs!
We stayed in Vegas for a week, just enjoying ourselves. We took a few trips into town, but mostly we stayed away from the TRAFFIC!

Our first venture out and about was to Ethel M's Candy Factory in Henderson, Nevada.
Not only is Ethel M's famous for their candy, they also have a beautiful cactus garden outside the factory.
 There are some very unusual varieties in the garden. Yes, they are wrapped with Christmas lights that Penn & Teller lit November 6th--after we left, of course.
 From Ethel M's we continued our day of fun by visiting Bally's to play Twilight Zone Mini Golf.
 After a rousing game of mini golf under the black lights, it was on to Orleans to the Prime Rib Loft for Connie's birthday dinner. There were some interesting characters just inside the door!
We enjoyed our meal and we stopped to listen to some music on the way out---of course, there were always slot machines to help pass the time....just sayin'.

By the time we finished eating and listening to the band, it was time to  head back to Nellis. Once again, TRAFFIC was HORRIBLE!  I knew there was a reason I don't like to visit Vegas!

The rest of our time was spent doing chores--shopping, laundry, cleaning, etc.

On Friday, before our departure on Sunday, we all went to the movie to see Hunter Killer. It has been a long time since Bob and I went to a movie. We were surprised at the comfortable seats, and shocked at the prices for popcorn and sodas! We did, however, enjoy the movie!

In the evenings while we were at Nellis, the gals played Pegs and Jokers against the guys. As we continue our travels, I will update the score each time we are with Larry and Connie. Suffice it to say, the gals have a small lead. We will see what happens in Borrego Springs at Thanksgiving!

Our Last Days in Arches....

After our day of hiking Fiery Furnace, we decided to take it easy on Tuesday. We drove back to The Windows to hike the short trails around the arches located there.First stop--Turret Arch.
Then it was on to South Window Arch.
We followed the primitive trail behind North Window and around to Double Arch. At the foot of Double Arch was a group of students on a field trip. They had paints and paper for an art project.
After viewing Double Arch, we decided to drive into town for lunch.
 While in town, we did a little shopping before eating pizza at Zax.

That evening we drove to Skyline Arch just outside Devil's Garden to watch the sunset. As we waited for the sun to go below the horizon, we caught site of some never before seen petroglyphs!
Then the sun began to sink.
 It was a gorgeous sunset!
 The next day was our day to hike Delicate Arch.The trail climbs over 400 feet in elevation from the parking lot. The red rock you see behind Bob is part of the trail.
 This shot is looking back toward the parking lot.
 After you go over the rise, there is still more climbing!
 Delicate Arch is the arch on many of Utah's license plates.
 After resting and enjoying the view, it was time to head back down the trail.
 That afternoon, we enjoyed Happy Hour behind Sol.
 We only had 2 more days in the park. Our next hike was Tower Arch. It is located out a gravel road on the southwest side of the park.
 After you leave the parking lot, it is an uphill, rock scramble to the top of the ridge.
Then the hike pretty much levels out until you get close to the arch.
We hiked to Tower Arch in 2012, and we enjoyed it as much then as we did on this trip. It is one of the few hikes in Arches where there aren't a lot of people hiking with you.
 The rock formations are different everywhere you look. This was taken under the arch.
 The arch is so big, it is difficult to get it in one picture.
 This was taken with a flash, Bob looking out the arch.
 To get under the arch, you have to walk between 2 short fins, then climb some rocks.
 We enjoyed the hike and went back to Sol to plan our last adventure in Arches.

Our last day we decided to hike the primitive trail to see how far we were from the wash when we turned around on Sunday. No, we didn't take any pictures. However, we were surprised to find that the slippery ledge was the last obstacle on the primitive trail! If we had gone past that, we would have been in the wash leading to the parking lot! MAYBE next time we will be able to do the entire trail! As it was, we only missed about 75 feet of completing the loop!