Subaru Road Trip: June 11-13, 2021

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Snow Plant aka Snow Flower, Tahoe Rim Trail

This is the first time since we’ve had the Airstream that we’ve taken a road trip without it. Our niece was getting married in Minden, Nevada. Normally, this time of the year Amelia would be out of school, and we’d make the wedding a part of a longer Airstream trip. The pandemic changed all of that, and school started two weeks late. So, we blasted up in the Subaru on Friday. Then Sunday morning, we pulled the southbound hammer down routine back to San Diego.

Boy, oh boy is it different not towing. It’s less stressful, but you aren’t traveling with a kitchen so you make poor food choices and eat out too much. I never seem to sleep well in a hotel room and they are not cheap, but the gas mileage on the Subaru is three times better. Like everything in life, there’s pluses and minuses. We prefer the Airstream. It’s comforting having your second home with you.

It took a lot of sweet-talking, but I convinced Amelia we should bring our bikes.  How could we drive past Lower Rock Creek and also be in the Tahoe area and not ride?

We saw our first Fuck Biden bumper sticker while in Nevada. Of course, it was on a big pick-up truck with a lift kit. The woman driving it looked bitter and angry, no doubt pissed off that Biden stole the election. She’s probably counting the days till Trump gets reinstated to the presidency in August. I wonder what her and her pals are going to do when that doesn’t happen…hopefully not have another insurrection. Unfortunately, one thing is fairly certain, they will believe the next lie told to them.

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Geeking out on our reflection at the Crystal Geyser plant in Olancha, California.

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Mulholland and his pals sure did a number to the Owens Valley. If you haven’t read or seen the Cadillac Desert, it’s worth checking out. It details how Los Angeles got the water. I’ll never get used to seeing City of Los Angeles Private Property signs three hundred miles from Los Angeles.

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The bottom of the second leg of Lower Rock Creek. That road is the old 395 between Paradise and the top of the Sherwin Summit.

 

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The start

 

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Such a beautiful trail.

 

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Amelia wasn’t too happy about the climb, but as you can see from her smile, the descent made her super happy.

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We stopped for a picnic along the Walker River with the new Playmate cooler! I still feel horrible about ruining her original one on our last trip, but this one works so much better.
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The beautiful Walker River

Carson Valley Inn, second floor. If you can’t have fun, what can you do?

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I bet she’s got some Glen Campbell stories. RIP Glen


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Amelia on the Tahoe Rim Trail


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Scenic Lake Tahoe


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Snow Plant: a flowering springtime parasitic plant that derives nutrients from mycorrhizal fungi that attach to tree roots. What a treat to see so many of them.

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The happy newlyweds: Jackson and Alex


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Father daughter dance. It was truly a special moment.

Wildflowers of Rancho Bernardo: April 15, 2021

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California Poppies

This year the desert was a complete bust for wildflowers. Much of the Southwest is in a severe drought.  San Diego’s rainfall is below average for the season.  However, we still received enough rain for a pretty decent wildflower display…if you know where to look!

All these pictures were taken on a 1.4 mile hike in the San Dieguito River Park by Lake Hodges in Rancho Bernardo. And of course, with my trusty iPhone 7.

Enjoy the beauty of nature!

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Goldfields

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Field of Goldfields

Bushmallow

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Purple Owl’s Clover

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Golden Yarrow

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Baby Blue Eyes

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Johnny Jump-Up

 

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Prickly Popcorn Flower

 

Bush Sunflower

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Purple Nightshade

 

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California Sun Cup

 

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Caterpillar Phacelia

 

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Deerweed

 

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A dying Blue Dick.

 

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Common Sun Rose

 

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A lonely Cream-cup.

 

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Bush Rue

 

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Fiddleneck

 

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California Milkweed

 

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Yellow Bush-Penstemon and my big paw.

 

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Wild Canterbury Bells

 

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Here’s the last one! Something I’ve never seen before, Chinese Houses.

Spring Break ’21 Amboy Crater: April 1-2

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Amboy Crater

Friends have been asking us, “Where’s Amboy Crater?” My smart-ass answer is always Amboy! It’s actually south of the I-40 between Mojave National Preserve and Joshua Tree National Park. You get to drive on Route 66 for a little bit! It’s a nice free one night stop.  It’s also a really good for stargazing.  All the clouds cleared out and at 10pm it was a spectacular celestial display.

On our way home we drove through a little community called Wonder Valley. That was a real eye opener….

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It was just us and another guy in a little Casita trailer. We never even said hello to each other. He was definitely throwing off the “I’m not social” vibe.

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From the Airstream it was a half mile on road to the trailhead. Then we did four miles on a dirt path getting to and from the crater as well as exploring the inside and the rim.

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Make no doubt about it, it gets hot here in the summer.

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A closer view

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It reminded us of Craters of the Moon National Monument.

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The ubiquitous piece of toilet paper 😢

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Inside the crater

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This put a smile on the heart rock collector’s face.

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We walked half way around the rim. There are rumors that occasionally a Marine chopper pilot from Twenty Nine Palms will land in the crater at night.

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Western Fence Lizard

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Looking east from the rim.

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Finally, a decent sunset!

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I’d be remiss if I didn’t tell you freight trains run all day and night, so keep that in mind before spending the night. It didn’t bother us though.

Spring Break ’21 Furnace Creek: March 28-April 1

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Amelia, awestruck by one of the slots in Sidewinder Canyon.

Pro tip: If you are visiting Death Valley be prepared to drive a lot!

We boondocked twenty miles east of Furnace Creek at a spot known as “The Pads.”  It used to be a company mining town until 1995 when Death Valley became a National Park and mining operations ceased. There are over forty concrete pads, where I’m assuming singlewide trailers used to sit. There’s also a huge pad where the clubhouse must’ve been because it’s next to a swimming pool filled with dirt. At times it felt haunting knowing that people used to live their life there. I would rate “The Pads” as a great boondocking spot. The only negative is zero cell phone reception.

At this stop we experienced a real wind event. On Monday evening while waiting for the moon to rise, Amelia’s phone blasted a weather alert noise. It startled both of us, especially since there’s no cell reception. Amelia grabbed her phone, and on her screen was: Tormenta de Polvo (dust storm).  When she tapped it thinking she could read the rest it disappeared.  We had no idea why it was in Spanish.

Thirty minutes later the wind became strong and the mountains to the east were shrouded by a huge dust cloud. We collapsed our chairs and table, brought in all our shoes, and hunkered down inside the Airstream. It was noisy. Anything that could rattle did. We ended up closing all the vents. The wind continued until sunrise.

We went outside to assess the aftermath. Our large patio mat was still staked down but covered in dirt and small pebbles. The chairs only moved a few feet. However our recycling bin was two hundred yards away stuck under someone else’s trailer!

Once we saw a person emerge from the trailer, Amelia went over to get the recycling bin and pick up as many scattered cans as she could find. That’s when she met Thelma. There were two gals traveling together and they referred to themselves as Thelma and Louise.

Thelma was probably in her late fifties, super chatty and proud of her 2001 Suburban.  After they exchanged pleasantries Thelma says, “I hope this doesn’t offend you but I’m a deplorable.” God bless my non-political wife, she had no idea what a deplorable was.  Then Thelma launched into a diatribe about stolen votes.  “Millions of votes were sent to China, Germany, and Iran.  Can you believe that?  I Ran!!” She quickly calmed down and said, “I don’t blame people for not knowing. The problem is everyone gets their news from the same major networks. You have to dig deep to get the truth.”

Finally, Amelia was able to escape. An hour later Thelma and Louise hitched up, drove by our spot, honked and waved.

You meet the most interesting people while traveling!

 

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We got a picture of a tourist at the fancy sign!

 

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Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes, quite a bit smaller than Eureka, but still beautiful.

 

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Footprints

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There were a bunch of little basins between the dunes were water would collect and dry out.

 

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Zabriskie Point

 

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We did the seven mile Zabriskie Point, Badlands, Golden Canyon, Gower Gulch loop hike.

 

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The beautiful entrance to Gower Gulch.

 

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Here’s a perspective shot on the tall canyon walls.

 

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Bend over Rover! The station is unmanned on Tuesday and Wednesday. We were there on Tuesday. I inserted our debit card, did all the steps to begin fueling, but the regular unleaded 87 wasn’t working. Nothing came out of the nozzle. The other travelers were experiencing the same issue. They were out of 87! We badly needed gas, so I reinserted the card and starting pumping the unleaded plus 89. It got to $1.34 and stopped! The 89 was all gone. On to the premium unleaded 91. I inserted the card and it was denied, because it was already inserted twice! Shit! Good thing I carry two credit cards, especially since Amelia forgot her wallet at home. I inserted the new card and tanked up with the premium for $105.00.

 

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Love the tortoise sign on the road to Dante’s View.

 

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Dante’s View of Badwater Basin

 

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What a trippy place! It just has a feel to it.

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Early morning at Badwater Basin.

 

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Be smart and wear sunglasses. It is a bright white.

 

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Mosaic Canyon. The walls are polished marble.

 

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Towards the end of Mosaic it gets real tight.

 

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We drove up to Grotto Canyon. It’s the most technical canyon and as we expected, it was over our head. But not all was lost, on the drive out we saw three Bighorn Sheep. A ram, ewe, and lamb. We saw the lamb go underneath her mom and latch on to a teat. Eventually they all sprinted across the road. This is the ewe and lamb.

 

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A good look of “The Pads” during the evening. Our Airstream is the furthest one away.

The swimming pool

 

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Definitely not a super bloom year in Death Valley! There were hardly any flowers. This is a Desert Stingbush.

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Velvet Turtleback

Our favorite hike was our last one; Sidewinder Canyon. Amazing would be an understatement. It’s a wide canyon with six side slot canyons. Some of the slots just keep going and going. Here’s some pics.

 

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Oops! We had a casualty from the dust storm. The little Playmate cooler was stuck under the Airstream. I didn’t see it and completely forgot about it. As we were leaving there was a loud noise. Amelia put on the brakes. I looked under the Airstream. Shit! I felt horrible. Amelia has had the cooler since she was a teenager and had the nickname AMP for Amy Marie Perkins.

Spring Break ’21 Lone Pine: March 25-28

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Snow blowing off the top of the Sierras

Wind! Wind! Wind! I swear there’s more wind nowadays and it’s stronger. It’s got to be climate change, right?

On our drive Thursday we had high wind warnings from the Inland Empire all the way to Lone Pine. The Airstream does pretty well in the wind, but it’s still very stressful towing. The wind howled the entire time we were in Lone Pine. On Friday morning the iPhone said the wind should be a little less on Saturday. So, we juggled our itinerary and did Alabama Hills on Friday and the Eureka Sand Dunes on Saturday. Who wants to be in a sandstorm exfoliating all your exposed skin and depositing sand in every orifice? No thanks!

If you haven’t been to the Alabama Hills, it’s this bitchin rockscape between Lone Pine and the base of the Sierras.  It’s just a few miles west of Lone Pine and easily accessible. We were flabbergasted at the amount of people camping.  Apparently the cat is out of the bag.  It was quite shocking.  In years past there were only a handful of campers. Unfortunately, most of the masses we saw were not in self-contained rigs. Which means there was a lot of visible toilet paper on the ground, in the bushes, and flapping in the wind. Amelia is not a fan of people leaving behind toilet paper; nothing gets her on a bigger rant than that.  “Dig a hole people!  If you aren’t going to bury it, then pack it out!  Come on ladies, try air drying and stop leaving toilet paper where people go hiking!” Amelia on her rant, “All true backpackers and tent campers have shit shovels.”

To the best of our recollection, Saturday was our fourth visit to the Eureka Sand Dunes. It is in what I like to call the new part of Death Valley.  I thought Death Valley had been a National Park forever. I was wrong. In 1933 it was declared a National Monument. It wasn’t until 1995 that it became a National Park, and expanded by 1,200,000 acres, which included Eureka Sand Dunes. Back when the dunes were just BLM land, my brother was out there paragliding, at least once.  That’s how I first heard about the dunes.

Rising 680 feet above the dry lake bed at their western base, the dunes are the highest in California and second tallest in North America. The Great Sand Dunes in Colorado are the tallest.

Anyhoo, we lucked out. The weather was perfect with only a whisper of wind on the dunes. We were surprised at how many people were there, especially considering how remote it is. Being surprised by crowds is becoming a theme. Then again, it is Spring Break and folks have been pent up dealing with the pandemic. But I’m blaming it all on the internets and social media!

Next stop, Furnace Creek area of Death Valley.

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Once again we stayed at the Boulder Creek RV Resort. You can see our truck and Airstream in the middle of the row. Someone started a little pet cemetery in the dry bed.

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Walking the cemetery you can feel the love and heartbreak the humans had for their animal friends.

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We couldn’t really make out the faded writing, but it looks like Cricket the Cat got ran over.

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If you haven’t driven through the Alabama Hills yet, do it!

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Amelia on the crazy rockscape.

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Super Woman!

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Peek-a-boo view

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Some folks might say it’s being loved to death, we think it’s being disrespected.

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Lone Pine Peak on the left, Mt Whitney on the right.

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When entering from the north end you don’t get the big fancy sign that all the tourists stop at to get their picture taken. This is also the start of sixteen miles of washboard dirt road to the Eureka Sand Dunes.

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A very deceptive picture. The dunes are a lot bigger than they seem.

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Amelia following my foot steps

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Sand dunes are beautiful.

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The obligatory artsy shot.

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Old man Harris at the top!

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Every time we’ve been there we’ve been buzzed by a fighter jet. I swear you can see the pilot! You can see the jet in this pic.

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Last Chance Range as viewed from the top of the Eureka Sand Dunes.

Hey Everyone!

I’ve updated an old post, but because of a WordPress quirk it doesn’t send out an email to all my followers, so this is my work around. It’ll be the post below this one, titled The Stadium. Please check it out and watch the video. Thank you!