Pahrump too…

We came to Pahrump because it was a cheap week stay, but have been surprised at the amazing things we have found to do (besides Death Valley).   Of course, everything is a long drive away, nothing has ever been right at our front door on this trip. We have learned to love the Jeep and the views as we travel from place to place. Also, out here (as opposed to NC and surrounding areas) EVERYTHING is a long way away. There are miles and miles of vast desert wilderness, which can be very beautiful, all surrounded by ever changing mountains. The colors and textures in the mountains (and valleys) never cease to amaze us.

Also on these day trips we change elevation a lot. From below sea level at the Salton Sea and Death Valley up to 5, 6, and 8,000 feet mostly 4,000 to 6,000 down to 1 or 2,000. It is a must to stay hydrated in the desert so we travel with several plastic water bottles each day. One interesting thing we have noticed is that when you go up and down the mountains the water bottles contract and expand if the lid is on tight crackling and popping the whole way!!! Hahaha true, just wanted to share one of our small giggles.

On our way to Death Valley day two, we decided to take the long way and go thru Beatty about 1.5 hours north and visit Rhyolite a ghost town about 4 miles west of Beatty. Gold was discovered in Rhyolite around 1904 and by 1907 it had a population of over 6.000. At its height, Rhyolite had access from 3 railroads, 50 saloons, 2 churches, 18 stores, 2 undertakers, 2 dentists, an opera house, a telephone company, electric power plant, 3 ice plants (necessary), 4 newspapers and 2 stock exchanges. Its height did not last long because although there was gold it was difficulty to extract. It is now a really interesting ghost town, you can see the grid lay out to the streets and several ruins of buildings including a three-story bank, jail house and rail road depot. The rest was either sold or pilfered.

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Although there are not many intact buildings, one that remains or has been restored is a bottle house. The structure is made of over 20,000 bottles which were used due to the lack of building materials. It is hard to imagine having this many bottles much less building a house out of them. Ideas for our next house??? But where to store the bottles in the meantime….

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Find the bottle dated 1902.

At the ghost town was also the Goldwell Open Air Museum, which is an artist retreat as well. The Museum began in 1984 when Belgian artist Albert Szukalski created the first installation “The Last Supper.” Life sized ghostly figures posed after the famous Last Supper by Leonardo Da Vinci. It is really quite impressive and although looks fragile it must be pretty darn sturdy to have withheld being outside in the desert for over 30 years. Several other pieces were created here in the early 1990 by other well known Belgian artists. More recently they established a not for profit and have artist programs and residencies on site creating more works for the garden, but also indoors multipurpose studios, with performance and exhibition space.

 

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About 45 minutes south east just outside of Las Vegas is the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, a 13 mile scenic drive with many hiking trails and rock climbing opportunities. If you ever find yourself in Las Vegas, you have to go. It is literally minutes from the city limits and only $7 entrance fee or free with our Pass Port America annual National Park Pass. You could spend a full day hiking and taking in the views.

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Another interesting spot we found are the Dublin Caves in Shoshone, CA. This small (population 31) town is about half way between Pahrump, NV and Death Valley. It not only has a free museum (small but interesting) but also cave houses. They say the caves were actively used from the early 1900’s until the 1960’s by miners and vagabonds. Caves are warm in the winter and cool in the summer and looked livable with stovepipe chimneys, alcoves on the walls, split level floor plans and an outhouse. Idea #2 for our next house???

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Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge is an oasis in the Amargose Valley part of the Mojave Desert about 22 miles west of Pahrump. This oasis was very different from the one we saw in Coachella Valley, instead of palm trees it had Ash and Mesquite trees and lots of what appeared to be marsh grasses. It is made up of several springs which put together pump 2,800 gallons of water a minute. I guess the Coachella oasis is from a spring as well (where else would the water come from?) but it must not pump as much as these. There were small streams all over the property and 2 large reservoirs with the clearest blue-green water you have ever seen. This was also the most water we have seen in a couple of months so that was refreshing.

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Notice the water bubbling the sand up in the middle of this spring. Said this spring pumps 16 gallons a second.  A SECOND.

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Finally, on our trip across just outside of Baker, CA we saw a real live mirage. We have seen the shimmering on hot asphalt and the hot beach sand, but never a full lake with reflections of mountains that disappear the closer you get. It was truly an amazing site, the pictures did not come out that well, but I couldn’t not make mention of this site as we were both amazed!!! Until next time Peace and Love.

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Pahrump

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So you may have noticed that I have not been posting much lately. That is because of the picture only posts I did a couple of weeks ago. We were using our Verizon data at Sam’s Family Spa (not the parks data) and I didn’t realize how much it used to post all of those pictures. They used up over half of our data in the first days of the month, so I have not been able to post. Lesson learned.

We left the Coachella Valley on March 6 and moved to Pahrump, NV. We are about 60 miles east of Death Valley and 50 miles north west of Las Vegas. Small town and RV Park is our first Escapees Co-op park “Pair – A – Dice” which is running a week special for first time visitors, so we get a cheap week and not far from National Park #2.

The trip over was uneventful. We climbed over the San Bernardino Mountains at a low spot but still quite a climb, our Bird did great. Over the mountain, we went thru Barstow, CA the other end of Interstate 40. So although we didn’t drive on 40 during our trip we have now seen both ends. Below is the western end (or beginning) of Interstate 40.

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After getting out of California hustle and bustle we were treated to beautiful scenery and a whole bunch of open land. It has really been fascinating how much open land there is in CA. We have always thought of it as highly populated and gridlocked, but in SoCal only the first ~100 miles from the coast is that way. There is a whole lot of wilderness to be discovered. Part of the drive across…

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We entered Death Valley via scenic Hwy 190 and it was beautiful. After lots of desert we entered the mountains and around every bend was a spectacular view. It really is amazing how much the terrain can change and how fast.  Our first stop in the park was Dante’s View. A 5,000 foot view of the salt covered valley below and surrounding mountains.

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Death Valley currently received only about 3 inches of rain a year, and unbeknownst to us had a devastating flood in October 2015 when the northern portion of the park received 2.7 inches of rain in less than 5 hours. Parts of the park are still closed. The descriptions of the flood are truly scary 17 visitors and 3 rangers were stranded overnight at Ubehebe Crater and they noted 100 foot wide rushing water with 20 foot waves down Grapevine canyon near Scotty’s Castle. The major attractions in the northern portion of the park are closed and it is a very long drive up there so we will most likely skip that part of the park?? The torrential rains also brought a “super bloom” for 2016 a once in a decade event, too bad we are a year late. There was also a strong storm 90 miles south that damaged Badwater Road which has mostly been cleaned up, but you can still see some of the damage and Artist Palette Drive is closed for repairs but you can still see some of the colors from a distance. Would have loved to drive thru this natural display of color.

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During the day, we ventured from Dante’s point at 5,000 feet to 282 feet below sea level at Badwater Basin. Badwater is named because the water is very salty and unfit for drinking by animals or humans. It is said that years ago surveyors brought their mules to the water to drink but had no luck and denounced it as bad water. This is the lowest point in North America that is not covered by water. There are vast salt flats that really look like snow. Guide books tell you not to walk out in the hot summer months, while we were there it was cool for Death Valley, high in mid 70s. .

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In another part of the salt flats there is an area called “Devil’s Golf Course”. I don’t really get the name (I’m not a golfer) but I don’t think I could even find a ball in this mess. It is an immense area of rock salt eroded by wind and rain into jagged spires or sharp salt formations. They say it is named that because “ only the devil could play golf on such rough links”?? They also warn of walking out into the spires because they are so sharp that they can cut thru leather shoe soles!!! Much less skin if you run into it or heaven forbid lose your balance.

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Although many of you have probably seen (and we have also) the natural bridge in NC mountains, we took the hike to a natural bridge in the park. Not as impressive as NC’s, but cool none the less. It was a hike up a canyon to the bridge and as pointed out at the kiosk we noticed where it looked like the canyon walls were painted and the paint dripped in areas (see pictures below).   This is because the canyon walls are so hot sometimes that when it rains on the mountains above and sediment washes down it drys on the canyon walls before it reaches the ground, thus appearing to paint the canyon walls. Wow just wow, so glad we are here in March.

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My favorite spot of the day was Zabriskie Point located in the Valley’s bad lands. The colors were amazing more so than the pictures give credit. Vibrant yellows and browns mixed in. It is unworldly looking. The fingers are relatively small compared to other views, but just astonishingly beautiful. As with many places we have visited I hear it is beautiful at sunset, but since we have been staying ~an hour outside of the parks and we have Nellie to get home to our days out are usually around 9 til 4 or so, so we usually experience sunset at home. Enjoy the view…

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Day one at Death Valley was marvelous, hope you have enjoyed. Thanks to Pair A Dice RV Park for the internet connection (clubhouse access only). Peace and Love.

Riverside Co Fair

They are having the Riverside Co Fair & National Date Festival. We have been waiting for this for a couple of weeks, they are having Camel and Ostrich races at 3 and Cheap Trick playing at 7:30. Both on Friday and come to find out, it is ½ price day so charge is only $5. The camel and ostrich races were more silly than we anticipated, but entertaining none the less. Cheesy comedy show and very short track, but they did actually race. We had a hard time finding dates for sale, but did manage to have a date shake (tasted like vanilla with raisins) not bad. Of course, we visited the free buildings and toured the crafts, juniors and model trains buildings. We have to brag on May Ma Moore, the quilting at the Riverside Fair competition could not hold a candle to yours. You do amazing work and so original please keep it up.

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This week Palm Springs is having “modernism” week, based around their modernism architecture. We found a free tour, but it was a bike ride. It was not as bad as imagined, but also did not take any pictures since I was riding a bike. Actually, cooler than normal temps mid 60’s sunny and beautiful surroundings made for a great 7 mile ride. The tour featured midcentury modernism neighborhoods designed by William Krisel, the homes are mostly 1 story with flat or “butterfly” roofs. Very modular and smaller than anticipated. New these homes sold for $20k, today they sell $800k to $1.3M. May ride back thru before we leave for pics?? Begin the ride…

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Peace and Love!!

Joshua Tree Civilized

Joshua Tree is now a naturalist’s mecca, but in days gone by it was used for ranching, cattle rustling and gold mining. There is some of the past civilization remaining to be explored. The most complete example is Keys Ranch which we did not visit because it is only accessible via a paid ranger guided tour and we are staying on the cheap.

Ryan Ranch although just ruins, was once a bustling ranch which housed approximately 60 people. While it was an active ranch the inhabitants also worked the nearby Lost Horse Mine. There was a well at the ranch which supplied water to the mine 3 miles away and 750 ft. higher than the well via a pipeline. There was evidence of the pipeline around the ranch, not sure how they pumped the water uphill, but expect they utilized the windmill. The original walls from the house were adobe. What is left had been covered by a concrete layer?? Don’t understand why, the concrete layer is falling off and is obviously not original since it covers the walls at their existing height not where they originally were. The adobe bricks are the original walls.

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In addition to the well there was also a small “tank.” Tanks are basically small dams used to hold rain water. Call it global warming or simply climate change, but this part of the desert used to have a lot more rain fall than it currently does.

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Near Keys Ranch is Barker Dam. This dam was constructed around 1900 by cattlemen and raised by rancher Keys in 1950. You can see the original portion on the backside where there is a stone face and the new level constructed with concrete. It appears that the Keys tried to rename the dam during their use see the inscription in the concrete “W F Keys – V Keys 1939.” The lake appears to be very low in comparison to the water level on the surrounding rocks. Note the water line is taller than me and I am on dry land. This may be due to recent Southern California droughts or again lessening rain fall in the area??

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Further along the Barkers Dam hike are some Petroglyphs or rock drawings. These have not been dated, but were definitely used by native American Indians as land marks. The dam might have been a natural “tank” before the dam was constructed?  The petroglyphs may be pointing this out?  Petroglyphs are not naturally as bright as these are now. They were painted over for use in a Disney Movie in the early 1960s. Reports differ as to whether they had permission to do this or not??

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Another nearby hike is thru Hidden Valley. A diverse valley surrounded by high rocky walls which is currently a mecca for rock climbers, we stayed and watched for a while. Kind of crazy, they work so hard to climb up these rock walls and don’t even stay to savor the moment, they just repel back down to do it again?? The valley is thought to have been a favorite for cattle rustlers since it was well hidden and has diverse vegetation for grazing. Beautiful area and a nice hike.

0dscf71210p1070100This trip to Joshua Tree was about a week since our last and towards the end we found that the Joshua’s have begun to bloom. Not sure if the recent rain helped the process or not, but we think so. The info we find says they bloom from Feb to April so maybe they are just on time.  It is raining again today so hopefully this will be good news for the wildflowers and cacti as well.

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Trip to the Mountains

Palm Springs has an aerial tram which climbs  Mt. San Jacinto the snow capped mountain to our left.  It climbs almost 5,400 ft. and the floor rotates while you go up for a 360 degree view.  We thought very hard about going up and seeing the snow covered mountain and the view, but it is a little pricy for us.  After parking fees and tram fees it would be over $60.00.  So we decided to drive up Mt San Gorgonio in San Bernardino National Forest the highest peak in Southern California at 11,500 feet.  We see Mt San Gorgonio to our right.  The valley between Jacinto and Gorgonio is filled with windmills and is directly in front of us.

There was not a road to the summit or if there was it was closed.  The highest we got was at Onyx Summit at 8,443 feet.  Which has a nice view of Mt. San Gorgonio and the surrounding area.

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We took Ca Hwy 38 winding around the mountains.  There was very little development, some camps and recreational areas, but no real towns.  The area was gorgeous and the snow really added to the beauty.  You may remember me saying that I could care less whether I ever saw snow again or not, so you may find it weird that we went up.  The weather was great even with the snow it was 50 degrees and sunny.  Really made for a nice contrast.

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Further down and around the northern side is Big Bear and Big Bear Lake.  We had our picnic there and enjoyed the lake and Nellie getting a run in the snow.  There were numerous ski resorts in the area.

In Big Bear we hit Ca Hwy 18 and traveled back west along a scenic drive called the “rim of the world highway.”  It runs the length of the San Bernardino Mountains right across the top.  When we started out we were surrounded by these beautiful snowy mountains.

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And then we turned a corner and the snow disappeared.  The mountains were very lush and green, you can see the city of San Bernardino in the distance.

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The drive was amazing and quite a nice change from the desert of Joshua Tree.  It was really nice to see trees again!!!

Peace and love.