Bootleg Canyon, Boulder City, Nevada: March 26-29, 2018


Bootleg Canyon Welcomes You


Our second stop, Bootleg Canyon.  File this under glad we went, but we probably won’t be back.  It’s just not really our type of riding.  Amelia found it to be unforgiving, not flowy, and somewhat intimidating.  It seemed to me like a place where mountain biking trails shouldn’t exist.  It was quite different from any other place we’ve been.  I did get the quote of the trip from a maintenance guy in the RV park.  He was probably my age but looked a lot older, and his riding days were over at least 10 years ago.  When I was inquiring about the trails he said, “There’s no soft rocks up there.”

We spent 3 nights at Canyon Trail RV Park.  We picked it because you can ride from the park to the trails.  It was a really nice RV park, as far as RV parks go.  There was only the occasional waif of cigarette smoke.  And Boulder City is not Vegas, so that’s a plus in its column.

Sorry no pictures of the Hoover dam.  If you haven’t taken the tour of it, you should, it’s quite fascinating.  We did it a couple of decades ago.



Out yonder in those mountains are the trails of Bootleg Canyon


Amelia monkeying around, I told her remember you’re 50 now, so don’t hurt yourself!


Mother trail, typical of the lower trails


Issue on day one.  The short story is Amelia had to walk her bike out a half mile.


Day two: white caps on Lake Mead, 40 mph gusts


Brittlebush and a dark blue Lake Mead in the background


Silverleaf Sunray


Beavertail cactus flowers


Sara’s favorite spot  #catdog


Our neighbor in the RV park.  Customized construction trailer with sweet graphics.  Old man winter on the left mountain.


Day three, a little elbow room since the neighbors vacated.  The wind finally died and the day was quite enjoyable, too bad the first two days were like being in a wind tunnel.


The exit from the RV park to head up to the trails.  I love the rubber ducky.


A view of Mt. Charleston and Sin City from the Caldera trail


Lake Mead view from Lower Lake View trail


It’s not all fun and games!


Awesome manhole cover

Kelso Dunes, Mojave National Preserve: March 24-26, 2018


Great boondocking spot at Kelso Dunes


For a long time now, even before the Airstream, spring break has been about going to the Hurricane/Gooseberry Mesa area for biking.  We were just there in November, so that gave us a good excuse to do something different this spring break.  So our first stop was Kelso Dunes.

When telling friends and family about our plan we were typically left with blank stares when we mentioned Kelso Dunes.  Kelso Dunes is part of the Devil’s Playground within the Mojave National Preserve.  It took us about 5 hours.  Once we got through the unbearable Inland Empire it was an easy drive.  Amelia was driving as we were going up the Cajon Summit and she blurted out, “Whoa did you see that?  Two Bald Eagles just flew by!”

“Are you sure?” I responded.  “I didn’t see anything.”

“Yes, I’m sure, gosh darn it.”  (Only she didn’t say gosh darn it, she cussed.)  “Why do you always doubt me?  Plain as day, two huge raptors with white heads and tails.

A couple of hours later I was driving on the I-40 just past Ludlow, Amelia blurted out, “Oh my God, I just saw a Borrego!”

“A Bighorn sheep?  Come on, are you sure?  I didn’t see anything.”

“Gosh darn it yes!” ( She didn’t really say gosh darn it, she cussed again.)  “Why do you always doubt me?  Plain as day, it was standing a on a hill just off the road.  Horns and all.”

“Riiiight….next thing you are going to tell me is you just saw an orange Orangutan.”

20 plus years and I don’t know who’s the slower learner, probably me because instead of just believing her, I tell her it’s not that I don’t believe you, it’s that I don’t believe anyone.

Once you exit the pavement off of Kelbaker Road to get to the dunes, the first 3 miles were a quasi-paved road, full of pot holes, which wasn’t bad.  Then the next 1.2 miles were terrible washboard.  It sure seemed like we were going slow and being careful, but when we got to our spot the TVs were swinging off the hinges, the faucet handle fell off the kitchen sink, an unknown plastic piece was on the floor, along with some small piles of saw dust.  The Airstream is a lot of things, but it’s not a Sportsmobile.  That kind of explains why we were the only trailer out there.  Mostly it was tents, one pop-up trailer, and a few Class C motorhomes.




She didn’t see anything either on the drive.


The handle to the faucet was on the counter in the corner by the stove!



Sunrise over the Providence Mountains


Panoramic view of the morning light on the Kelso Dunes



To the right of Amelia on the horizon is the snow capped Mt. Baldy


Running down sand dunes puts a big smile on Amelia’s face



Eastern view from the top


About the same pitch as Dave’s Run


Mojave Fringe-toed Lizard


It was never warm because of a constant cold wind.  One morning it was 32 degrees!


Wind ripples


A dead Dune Primrose, as the plant dries out, the stem branches curl toward the center and produce a characteristic cage shaped skeleton called a Devil’s Lantern.



Evening light on Granite Mountains


Bladderpod Bush, we saw about 10 of these on the side of the road


Large Yellow Desert Primrose.  We saw two of these and a few Desert Marigolds.  Other than that there really weren’t any flowers.  I don’t count the Creosote bushes.


Leaving on the washboard, driving extremely slow, like walking speed.  We didn’t want a repeat of the drive into the dunes.


Agua Caliente: March 9-11, 2018


San Diego County Route S-2 heading east.  The clouds looked ominous but we only had sprinkles.


I hesitated to post this blog for the fear of it going viral and having the masses ruin it.  We did the most amazing hike on Saturday.  All the maps don’t name it and only one of our hiking books mentioned it.  When we got home I googled it and a handful of people have posted something about it, so what the hell, why not post it.

It’s called Hornblend Canyon and starts at mile 26.1 on S-2.  There’s a small pull out at the bottom of the hill on the east side.  The canyon entrance is directly across the road on the west side.  Kudos to R for scoping it out.  His last few times out here (this is a guy who has probably spent 150 nights at Agua Caliente) he has been eyeing this wash.  It’s different from most of the hikes we’ve done in Anza Borrego because it begins at 2,300 ft elevation.  It’s at a transitional zone, so you see the typical desert flora at the beginning, but as you gain elevation you get to observe the changes in the plant community.  It’s actually quite fascinating.  We did 6 miles round trip and 1,000 feet elevation gain.  Some scrambling was required.  And look out for the Cat Claw shrub, it’ll reach out and scratch you.  R was a bloody mess by the time we got back to the truck.  If you kept going you’d eventually summit Granite Mountain.

This was our third trip to Agua Caliente with the Airstream.  It’s without a doubt a place to visit mid week.  The campground was packed to the gills over the weekend.  Families with kids running around all over the place.  Camping is a great thing for families to do, especially here since there is zero, zip, nada cell service at Agua Caliente.  It’s like a throw back to another time when kids actually played and did things outside.  It was quite refreshing to see.



G and R at the beginning of the Hornblend Canyon hike.  The next eight pics are from the hike.


California Juniper berries, of course R had some wisecrack about gin.


Lichen covered rock was everywhere.


Two Glorious Beetles foraging on juniper.


Sugar Bush


One of the most amazing things we’ve ever seen in Anza Borrego, vertical honeycombs from wild honey bees.  Bees were flying in and out so we were a little scared to get any closer.


Arizona Dudleya, one section of the hike had dozens and dozens of them in various sizes clinging to the rock walls.


Looking down on the 10-foot-high dry water fall


At our turn around point.  Is this whole selfie craze ever going to end?


As I mentioned, there is no cell service at Agua Caliente.  You have to drive 4 miles west to this spot for reception.  I made the drive on Friday and Saturday.  I just had to know how the San Diego State Aztecs were doing in their conference tournament.  They won it and are on their way to the Big Dance!


Ocotillo bloom at our campsite


And then there’s always this guy and lucky us, he was our neighbor.  The lights on his fifth wheel were bright enough to luminate his flag and the entire campground.  I’ll give him this though, he was a flag etiquette guy, once he finally turned off his lights the flag came down.


Elephant Tree from our short Sunday morning hike up Torote Canyon.  Tortote is Spanish for Elephant Tree.


A windy Friday night


No dramatic sunrise or sunsets, but a beautiful view of the early morning light on Sunday.