Wednesday, May 4, 2016

2016 Spring Break. (the last one?)

Whohee, finally a Spring Break with our Spring Break traveling buddies, Ed and Susanne...,
 but first.  I have an event to attend.  Bike around the Buttes.  A 40 mile bicycle ride around Sutter Buttes in the Central Valley.  A dozen of us SOB's, "Seniors on Bikes" drove over Friday for Saturdays ride starting in the small town of Sutter.  8:00 AM and we were off!


Lolli trailed along with our Vanagon with it's new rebuilt transmission.


Here's a map of the ride.


Great fun and a nice day.  We finished the post ride barbeque, said goodbye to the SOB's and headed over to the local market for some groceries and ice.  Who should pull up beside us but Ed and Susanne!  Perfect timing.

2016 Spring Break is ready to roll.

And roll we did.  All afternoon pounding down I-5 to a free camp spot I know down by the Firebaugh turn-off.


Circle the Vanagons for the night.

Up and at it again the following morning and on down I-5 to the Arvin turnoff.

Up over Tehatchpi Pass and down into the Mojave.

I know a place where we can free camp beside the dog dish.
During Spring Break 2002 our good ol' traveling dog Sarah pass away out here in the desert.  We buried her and left her dog dish and a tennis ball.

14 years later, here it is.  Still here!!


We circled the Vanagon and called it an evening.


I decided to give the pipe line road a try.  Only rode about five miles and the sun went behind the wind turbins of Mojave.


Up in the morning and off to Barstow to top up our supplies and buy some ice for our ice chests.

Along the way Lolli tossed me out of the Vanagon so I could do a detour through the town of Boron on my bike.


You might notice my bicycle by the front wheel!


Back to the highway, bike back on the Vanagon and onward.

We hit Von's in Barstow and then Ed led the way.  He had a bunch of Geocache waypoints lined up along HWY 66.

Geocaching helps us find interesting places.





No shortage of Geocach along HWY 66.


Here's a closer look at the "Power Trail"!!


Every couple of hundred yards!!

We sample several.

By late afternoon we arrived in Goffs.
Circled the Vanagons and enjoyed the place.


A lot of work has been done at Goffs restoring old mining equipment and compiling desert history.
This is a (now operational) ten stamp mill!


The sun is going down and it is finally time for The Annual Feature..., Nook Mom!!
Each Spring Break we slather it on Eddie's barbied chicken and each year unexpected results occure later in the trip.  (Hint:  this year is no different.)



Anyway, excellent Nook Mom dinner and we call it a night.

In the morning I decide to ride down HWY 66 to where it intercets with HWY 95 and back.  A very easy round trip of 37 miles.  Half of them down hill and the other half the wind blowing me back to Goffs!  Perfect!





And now it is time to break camp and head for Caruthers Canyon via the old Landfair road.
Miles of washboard but beautiful high desert.  Lots of flowers and blooming cacti!


We arrive in the canyon and circle the Vanagons.


A bit on the cool side because of the elevation but..., this is great!


We decide to stay a couple of days so I set up the portable facility.


Walks morning and evening.  Naps during the mid day.


One hike was up canyon and past this balancing rock!  The photo is a bit out of focus but I didn't want to disturb anything!!  It doesn't look like this balancing act will last another year!


The goils turned off to head back to the camp but Ed and I continued up and up this former road to try and find out what was so important they went to all this effort to build this road in the first place.

Ah, we knew it.

A mine!

Several of them, in fact.


Solved that question.

Back to camp and Susanne and I grabbed our watercolor kits and camp chairs and went over to "paint" a cactus we saw during one of our walks.
We spent a happy hour or so concentrating on our individual interpertations.


Here's mine.


Here's Susanne's.


What a fun way to spend some "focused" time in a beautiful area.

Next morning, off on another walk.






And then time to pack up and head for Baker.  The ice in the coolers getting low.


Miles and miles.  The desert is a big place!


Arrived in Baker around noon.  The world's tallest thermometer tells the story.

HOT


We grab gas, groceries, ice and snackage at the Mad Greek's and are outta there, heading north toward Shoshone and one of your favorite free spots, Smith Springs.

Again, higher elevation means cooler temperatures but we are settled in for the night.


Quail, other birds and a near by geocache.  Perfect!


In the morning we head for Tecoupa Hot Springs.  I elect to unload the bike and bicycle to Shoshone while the rest of the group takes a soak.


Duckie is loving it!


We gather in Shoshone for Lunch, groceries and more ice and then head for Death Valley Junction; Nook Mom is already working to change our plans!  We discover the road to Roades Cabin is closed and an important geocache for Eddie will be unavailable!  Bugger!!

Left at Death Valley Junction, down into Death Valley and up the other side to turn off and head for a campground I know about up in the Panamints above Wild Rose.

We rattle up the washboard road past the Charcoal Kilns to almost 7,000 feet.  It is a cold night in the Vanagon but we have enough covers.

Morning dawns bright "up higher" we are going to be in the shade until noon, it looks like so..., pack up and rattle on up to Mahogany Flats, the campground on the ridge looking both ways, down into Death Valley or down into Panamint Valley!

We arrive.  8,133 feet!


Nothing left to do but go for a hike up the trail toward Telescope Peak.

The view down into Death Valley is straight towards Badwater, 282 feet below sea level!


Spectacular!

But it is time to get low.

Back down the washboard road for miles until we reach blacktop where I hop out and kiss it!!


Back into Panamint Valley and off towards Ballerat where we happen upon some BLM land, head out a ways and circle the Vanagons.

We see blowing dust out on the playa.


A nice evening presents itself and I take a photo of my traveling partners.


Not bad


Until 2:00 in the morning when a sudden windstorm arrived and blew so hard we could not see each other's Vanagon in the moon lite dust and blowing sand!!

Morning arrived calm again but wow, What an "Awesome" night!!

Pack up and on the road again, this time up out of Panamint Valley and on to Lone Pine.

Along the way Ed knew of a two part geocache.  We stopped and hiked out to find the first part which was coordinates for the second part!

We drove on and then hiked out to the second coordinates and "Bingo!".

"We found what we were looking for!"


This was the location where the "Joshua Tree" Album by the band "U-2" was photographed!!

Lots of stuff and memorebilia left by visitors and groupies over the years!!


And now, off to the Alabama Hills just beyond Lone Pine.


We find our spot, circle the Vanagons and go for a hike.


Many, many amazing rock formations.
A heart for Lolli but it is too big to take home!






Just spectacular but...
The weather has changed.  Cold and windy.  We stay the night and then decide to cut this trip short and head home; Ed and Suzanne to Olympia, WA and us back to Fort Bragg.  Snow if forcast to the north on HWY 395.  That darn Nook Mom!



Lolli and I hole up at one of the "spots" I know on the south side of Mono Lake for the night/


Well lookie here!!
The prediction for snow wasn't wrong!



Up in the morning and on to Bridgeport.  The Bridgeport Inn was open for coffee, breakfast and wi-fi!

Perfect!


Filled the gas tank and drove 250 miles to Rumsey Canyon west of Sacramento.  We found a spot for the night beside Cache Creek.
Perfect!


Home the next day by 2:00 PM!  An extra Saturday and Sunday to unload, unwind and enjoy being back home.

Our Spring Break got a bit truncated by a strange weather front but we still had a wonderful time with Ed and Susanne.  They say this is their last Spring Break but I think after they soak in the Great North Wet a year or two they might change their mind.

We'll see.