Thursday, March 31, 2011

Joshua Tree NP, Berdoo Canyon Road

Thursday: (03/31) For breakfast we had choreso with potatoes and eggs. We then  headed out the Geology Road and Berdoo Road to Indio. We weren't able to get a guide for the Geology Road tour. Haven't been any the last couple of days at the kiosk at the beginning of the road. There also was nothing on the NPS website and there isn't a ranger station anywhere close so with nothing to guide us, we drove the Geology Road.

Flowers? Lizard Sunning
An unusual flower or plant. And a lizard sunning in the desert. The road goes down into an area known as Pleasant Valley which is quite pleasant. There are some numbered posts along the way that were intended to point put something, we're sure but without more we didn't know to to look for so didn't stop. We did see our first roadrunner of the season along the road. There are some areas that might provide for some good hikes in the future as well.

Jack Rabbit Coming Jack Rabbit Going
We saw this jack rabbit on the Geology Tour Road.

Begining Berdoo Canyon Road Berdoo Canyon Road Rough Spot
After completing the geology Road we continued out Berdoo Canyon Road which starts at the end of the Geology Tour Road. The road starts out nice and is nice for about half the way. It, like the loop road at the end of the tour, are 4x4 roads. Actually any vehicle with high clearance could make it easily on the Geology Tour Road. Same for the first half of the Berdoo road as well but there are two location starting about 7-10 mile out on Berdoo Road where high clearance, 4x4, and some skill or luck are needed to pass through. When you enter the canyon you come upon a decision point.

Berdoo Canyon Road Rough Spot Berdoo Canyon Road Rough Spot
We met a couple of hummers that had been set up as tour buses. They come up the road from Indio or? The driver stopped and mentioned the two spots that were rough and said we should look at the one just a mile further and decide if we "really" wanted to continue. We looked and did continue. We had to study the approach and carefully go through but we made it with no problems. Sometimes, on these kinds of challenges, we walk quite a ways to be sure we can get through and/or get back out if needed. Lou guided me through so I didn't hit the big rocks I couldn't see on the right. There often is only inches of clearance on some of these passages. The hummer, with much more clearance and bigger tires, just went over some of the spots we had to avoid. I'm not sure what the passengers on the tour hummers thought when our little jeep went through so "easily"? Then, of course, there is the "fact" I'm so skilled at doing it with my 2-3 similar excursions?

Cactus Flowers Cactus Flowers
We did see some wonderful flowers when we stopped. They really don't show up well from inside the Jeep? We started the trip a little after 9am and were in Indio by 1pm.

After a couple of stops at thrift stores I accidentally passed too close to on the way into town, we stopped at Sloan's Restaurant for lunch. I had the CF steak and Lou the super nachos, all good. We then did our laundry. The dirty clothes got a nice tour today. Then we did some shopping and returned back to camp via the highway which isn't as short (67 miles) but much easier. Especially since it was dark before we got home and that 4x4 road would have been much more challenging in the dark. Dinner was apples and peanut butter.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Joshua Tree NP, Lost Horse Trail

Wednesday: (03/30) We were out early to hike the Lost Horse Mine Trail. It's two miles out to the mine and either return or continue on the 4.2 mine return loop. Lou did the former, I the later. The two miles out to the mine pass through an area that was burnt out recently so not to pretty. The mine was interesting. From the peak above the mine you get great views of Pleasant Valley below to the East.

Lost Horse Mine Lost Horse Mine Trail
The Lost Horse Mine Trail starts a mile or out on a side road from the road to Keys View. The trail is a loop trail with one leg of 2 miles out to the mine and another 4.2 mile return loop from there. We hiked out the 2 mile (left) side of the loop through an area that had been burnt out fairly recently. There is a nice example of a stamp mill there but it is difficult to get a good photo because of the high chain link fence. The main vertical mine shate is also behind the fence. The stamp mill is shown in both photos above, one from behind the mill an the other from across the wash.

Remains Of Miners Cabin Along The Lost Horse Mine Trail Flowers Along Lost Horse Mine Trail
I returned via the 4.2 mile trail while Lou returned via the same 2 mile trail. Her knee was used up already. The trail from the mill goes down the back side of the mountain quite a ways, very steeply, to another mine then back up a little and returns via another valley. It passes another mine and the remains of a cabin. Just the fireplace and a rusted cot. Along the trail I saw these rather rare red flowers. No fire damage and an excellent example of the Joshua Tree forests along this trail.

Lost Horse Mine Trail Lost Horse Mine Trail
It returns through an excellent joshua tree forest.

Breakfast was Don McMuffins with jalapeno loaf. Lunch was a chicken pot pie and hot coleslaw. Hamburgers and chips for dinner.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Joshua Tree NP, Jumbo Rocks

Our Jumbo Rocks Campsite Our Jumbo Rocks Campsite
Tuesday: (03/29) We settled in to a nice campsite (82). Lunch was potato salad with grilled cheese and jalapeno loaf sandwiches. We relaxed in camp most of the afternoon. This is one of our favorite campgrounds.

Jumbo Rocks Sunset At Jumbo Rocks
A view of the Jumbo rocks from atop one behind our campsite as the sun was setting. The sunset is on the right.

After a nice nap I needed to stretch so hopped around on the jumbo rocks around camp before dinner. Roast chicken with rice and broccoli slaw for dinner. It must be spring break and this must be a popular family destination because the campground filled up with lots of families unlike most of our previous camps.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Joshua Tree South, Hotel California

Monday: (03/28) Peanut granola with yogurt and bananas for breakfast. I caught up on the blog and bills. We packed a lunch and took another Jeep run, this time across the valley. We headed up a dirt jeep road across from us in the Orocopia Mountains.

California Hotel California Hotel
We happened upon one of our destinations with ease, the Hotel California , a nice rock cabin built into the side of a rock ledge. The path Lou is starting up goes to the Hotel California just up the wash an on the side against a rock cliff.

California Hotel California Hotel
There is a log book inside and it looks like some people actually stay in the Hotel occasionally. The large flat area on the right is one of the bedrooms, one on either side.

California Hotel
View of California Hotel from above.

The road ended just up the hill a short way so we returned back down the hill taking all the off shut roads on the way down. We then took the powerline road along East to another road that went out into another valley and ended a couple miles out at the wilderness boundary. We stopped for lunch of Lou's potato salad overlooking the valley below. We returned to the old highway and followed it to the Chiriaco Summit, the next exit East on I10 from our campsites exit. We got gas there. We then  wanted to try to take a dirt road home without getting on the freeway. The road said "Dead End" but who pays attention to that. A dirt road continued on after the pavement ended. It wasn't well used but clear We went a few miles out as the road got more and more difficult to find. Finally we gave up and headed back. On the way we found a treasure. Evidently there had been an accident on the freeway. A vehicle had gone through the fence, evidently at high speed. While the vehicle was gone. there were tools all over on our road for couple of hundred feet. They were nice socket and other tools in excellent shape. We collected them and returned home with our treasure. Dinner was chile rellenos with strawberries and cottage cheese.

Sacred Dutra Flower At BLM South Of Joshua Tree NP Turtle At BLM At South Entrance To Joshua Tree NP
Tuesday: (03/29) Chorizo eggs and potato hash for breakfast. We were preparing to depart when a neighbor came by and told us they had seen a desert tortoise nearby. We went down to take a look. It was a big one, about the size we saw a couple of days ago on Pinkham Road. While there the neighbor also mentioned seeing a nice sacred datura plant in full bloom as well. We had seen it last year but not this year so we went over to see it as well. It had a half dozen or so violet fringed white blossoms. Quite nice. We stopped to service the tanks at cottonwood then headed North across the park to Jumbo Rocks Campground.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Joshua Tree South, Pinkham Trail

Sunday: (03/27) We had leftover biscuits and gravy for breakfast then headed out on our days adventures.

Flowers North Of Bajada Trail In Joshua Tree NP Flowers North Of Bajada Trail In Joshua Tree NP
We went up the road a little ways to our favorite wildflower area on the way in to the Joshua Tree NP. Not too many flowers there this year. Timing is everything plus the weather seemed to have delayed or terminated some of the flower season this year with the late freeze.

Flowers North Of Bajada Trail In Joshua Tree NP Cactus North Of Bajada Trail In Joshua Tree NP
We continued in to the park to Cottonwood Spring. We hiked down Cottonwood Wash all the way back to the highway coming in to the park then back up the wash until we headed to the East by some other springs back up to the trail that goes to the Lost Oasis then back to the car.

Flowers North Of Bajada Trail In Joshua Tree NP Flowers North Of Bajada Trail In Joshua Tree NP
We had better luck on this trail.

Flowers North Of Bajada Trail In Joshua Tree NP Flowers North Of Bajada Trail In Joshua Tree NP
The Cottonwood Wash is another of our favorite flower hunting locations.

Lizard North Of Bajada Trail In Joshua Tree NP
An interesting lizard was seen. This is the only one of this type seen. It was nice of it to pose.

Turtle Crossing Pinkham Trail In Joshua Tree NP Turtle Crossing Pinkham Trail In Joshua Tree NP
Then it was fun time. We stopped at the beginning of Pinkham Canyon Road and read the kiosk signs. They said to be sure to let someone know where you were going. It is a 20 mile jeep road and there is no cell phone there so we respected the sign which said we could check in at the ranger station (across the street) to let them know where we were going. It was news to the volunteer there but she took a note from us. I find that an ounce of prevention usually eliminates the need for a pound of cure. We didn't get very far up the road before we had to stop. A turtle was crossing the road. I got out and took a few pictures staying back 20 feet or so as instructed by powers that be. The beast just sat there for a long time so we backed up some to get out of his sight. It worked. He(?) started walking, toward us. Just then, another car came speeding down the road toward us and the turtle. It is barely a single lane wide road and we were parked in the middle but I did move back up closer to the turtle and we were waving our hands for them to stop. They approached very close to the turtle, jumped out and grabbed it and placed in away from the road. Not supposed to do that. It can cause them to urinate and loose all there needed water and die. It is a desert, after all and it is their home, not ours. But, at least they didn't run over it. It was over a 12 inch turtle, a beauty. We continued on out the road. The first 12 miles of the road is fairly uneventful just winding among the shrubs on a pretty flat road going slightly uphill. After that it is a little more exciting with heavy sand and gravel washes with occasional big rocks and deep ruts for another 5 miles or so. Then it heads out toward I8 through Pinkham Canyon. Parts of that were quite rugged including some extreme rocks and extremely narrow passages.

Flowers Along Pinkham Trail In Joshua Tree NP Flowers Along Pinkham Trail In Joshua Tree NP
There were some nice flowers as we exited the canyon.

Flowers Along Pinkham Trail In Joshua Tree NP
As the road exits the canyon it becomes extremely sandy and narrow for the last couple of miles before exiting out onto the nice gravel road used by the LA Water Dept for their pipeline.

We took the gravel pipeline road all the way back to our camp. We stopped about 15 miles out for lunch of Lou's Treet (spam), red and green peppers, jalapeno cheese and olive salad. Pinkham Canyon Road is referred to on some of the signs as Pinkham "Trail", probably more appropriate than "Road". We relaxed the rest of the late afternoon and evening. Lou fixed Talapia fish with Spanish rice and fresh cauliflower for dinner.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Joshua Tree South

Saturday: (03/26) Popcorn for breakfast. I sometimes get a craving and can't eat it too late in the day. We spent the day at home. We took a walk around camp in the morning. It was nice with no wind. After our morning walk the wind picked up and was rather fierce most of the day. I worked at the computer and Lou on her dolls. For lunch we had cottage cheese and fresh pineapple. For dinner carrots, fresh asparagus, and chicken with spaghetti squash and Parmesan cheese.

Friday, March 25, 2011

A Successful Smog Test For the RV

Friday: (03/25) We enjoyed a nice long shower before utilizing the facilities and servicing our tanks to ready to depart. The headquarters campground is right next to the railroad tracks so we got to listen to several trains per hour during our stay. We're not complaining, we like the sound of trains. I spent some time at the computer and on the phone to locate a good smog test site that could do the RV. Pep Boys auto in Indio turned out to be the place. We said good bye to the pesty flies that survived our swatter and were on our way. Actually this was a nice place to camp. Only flies here, not the mosquitoes or noseeums of previous camps.

We pulled in to Pep Boys and they got the RV in right away. It passed its test with flying colors, a rare experience for our vehicles. It is ten times better than the average vehicle, almost immeasurable. Of course, all that matters is to pass the darned test. With that normally troublesome task accomplished we went over to the nearby Costco in La Quinta, a couple of miles away. We were in need of blue towels and paper plates and lunch. Lou had her polish dog and I had pizza. Next stop was the Winco market for groceries and then we headed over to the Fantasy Casino so Lou could make a deposit before we headed East up the hill on I8 to our new campsite to be, the BLM area just outside the South entrance to Joshua Tree NP. We'll probably be here a couple of days as we take a couple of hikes.

Lou fixed baked chicken with rice pilaff and green beans for dinner.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Salton Sea And Bradshaw Trail

Wednesday: (03/23) After leaving Hot Springs LTVA in Holtville we headed up highway 111 stopping in Calipatria for some LPG and gas for the jeep. Oddly, in this small town the LPG was 20-30 cents cheaper than in Holtville or El Centro? We continued on to Niland and visited the area known as "Slab City", an abandoned military base that is now a free camping site. While the old base is abandoned, there is still military activity there further down the road the Navy evidently is still doing training for special forces? We saw lots of trucks driving through the Slabs and heard lots of explosions.

Slab City Near Niland California Slab City Near Niland California
We looked around, saw the Salvation Mountain and the "RVers" camping there and decided to move on. We weren't confident enough to even spend one night there. It's not what it once was or the reports of the place were exaggerated.

Our campsite at headquarters campground at Salton Sea State Park
We continued North almost to mecca to the Headquarters Campground of the Salton Sea State Recreation Area. We had a late lunch of leftovers. Cottage cheese and asparagus and some of Lou's maple syrup cake. We decided to look at our guides. Lou had left them in the toad. We intended to drive the Bradshaw Trail, a jeep road from here to Blythe. After looking at the guide we determined this end was just across the street so we decided to camp here. Fortunately, there was a vacancy here. There are only full hookup sites here, our first hookups since leaving home. Unfortunately, our city water connect was discovered to be broken and the sewer inlet is too far away so we are just using electrical. We'll fill up with water and dump before we leave. We enjoyed some really heavy winds after sunset. Fortunately they only lasted a couple of hours.

Thursday: (03/24) We shared a blueberry fritter and leftover chorizo, eggs and potatoes for breakfast. We waited around for the visitor center to open but it hadn't opened by 9am. We learned it opens at 10am. No signs posted. We stopped by the entrance station and talked to a ranger but they couldn't find any of the Bradshaw Trail information sheets so we just headed out with the information from our guide book. We headed East on Parkside Road and Desertview Road to the Cochella Canal. Our guide said to take the canal road East for 10 miles but we found a locked gate at the canal road. We were considering following a road that paralleled it but it had piles of dirt across it that other vehicles had knocked down some. The first hump was no problem but I didn't feel we had enough clearance for the second. As we were looking at it a canal company service truck came by. I spoke to the driver and he said that the canal road was closed but he would open the gate for us and he also told us where to exit it. We headed on down the road passing many no trespassing signs followed by the service truck. We finally made it to Drop 24 our exit onto Bradshaw Trail. There must be another way to get there, maybe next time we'll find it. (note: There is a better way, start from the East end off Wiley Wells Rd.)

Mushroom in the desert at beginning of Bradshaw Trail A railroad track that needs some maintenance
At the start of the Bradshaw trail we spotted another unusual desert mushroom. The first couple of miles of the trial, after leaving Drop 24, were quite rough. We had to poke along at a couple of mph. Eventually it smoothed out enough to get up to 15mph, quite nice. The road continued to improve and we were up to 45mph on parts of it with the occasional slow section for heavy sand or ruts. The railroad that snakes across the road at the beginning looked in very good shape but after a while we came upon this washed out section, still in good shape.

The Bradshaw Trail travels along the edge of the Chocolate Mountains Gunnery Range The Bradshaw Trail travels along the edge of the Chocolate Mountains Gunnery Range
The trail followed along the boundary of the Navy bombing range. Lots of signs warning of unexploded ordinance. We didn't wander off the road both for that on one side and wilderness on the other. There were several side roads we passed that may be of future interest.

The Bradshaw Trail travels along the edge of the Chocolate Mountains Gunnery Range Our picnic site on the Bradshaw Trail
The bomb carcass seems to be part of a scare tactic along with the signs. of course one wouldn't want to be part of the tests. We stopped about 50 miles out for lunch about 12:30, jalapeno loaf sandwiches. We then continued on to Wiley Road and looked around the Mule Mountain LTVA campgrounds. They have a dry sanitary dump and non potable water. So extended stays there are possible and the campgrounds are quite nice. I had heard it was difficult to get in and we did not head out via the way that you would take in on Wiley Road but the road looks like it is in excellent shape and there were lots of motorhomes there. We continued East on Bradshaw Trail to Highway 78 and up to I10. We headed back toward home stopping for a look around Desert Center. We turned on Box Canyon Road and headed Southwest toward Mecca through the Northwest edge of the Orocopia Mountains. We stopped in Mecca for gas and picked up some burritos for dinner. Total distance today was about 210 miles, 88 of which were on gravel roads. A nice trip into areas we haven't seen before.