Hurricane, Utah: Spring Break 2022


Amelia & Monica on Wire Mesa

I won’t bore you with the traffic hell we experienced coming and going, but ugh…the Pink Jeep Tours are now at the Valley of Fire. And wow! We could not believe all the new housing developments in Vegas, St. George, and Hurricane since we’ve driven through the area three years ago.

On our third day of riding we were at Gooseberry Mesa. I was going up some steep rock, my chain slipped off the rear cog, and I ended upside down like a Desert Tortoise, with my bike on top of me. I could hear the girls close to me so I waited for them to get me upright. Their voices were not getting any closer. I figured they were probably sessioning something, so I started yelling, “I need a little help!” That got them to me quickly. They were quite worried to see my predicament. Once they got the bike off of me I was fine, just a bloody finger.

Through Strava, we saw that Monica, an old friend, we haven’t ridden with in years was in St. George with her family.  Amy and her texted each other. They were on their way to Hurricane. So the girls set up a ride for Thursday morning at Wire Mesa. We were both ecstatic.

Thursday morning, five minutes before we were leaving to go meet them, I blew out my back putting on my biking shorts. Unbelievable! I haven’t experienced that extreme pain in over a decade. A nerve gets pinched in your spine, then your muscles contract and start to spasm. It is so bad you can’t even stand. The worst part is having your wife roll you on your side and hold a Tupperware container while you urinate. Good times! It’s crazy how crooked you become.

I’ve actually been battling this L4-5 herniated disc since my thirties. Stretching, regular Chiropractor visits, and keeping my core strong has kept it all in check for years. Truth be told, I probably have slacked off on the core strengthening. And now I’m paying the price.


Tradition says on your first evening in town, you ride Church Rocks.


We spent the first 4 nights at Quail Creek State Park site #14. We were reminded again why this town is called Hurricane. We experienced sustained winds of 35 mph and gusts over 40 mph. So windy we couldn’t open any windows for fear they would blow off their hinges. For air circulation we kept the front door open with the screen door closed all through the night. If you were a paranoid person you would be concerned about an axe murderer walking in and killing you. We aren’t paranoid, but we did end up with a layer of sand on everything.


Marlene and Amelia on Little Creek Mesa rock.


Marlene getting crazy.


Little Creek Mesa Public Swimming Pool


Don’t fall!


Amelia on Gooseberry Mesa. The terrain is quite different from Little Creek Mesa. Definitely more difficult and technical.


I can spot a teacher a mile away. These three with Amelia are from Chico. We ran into them on The Point at Gooseberry. Marlene and I were cracking up listening to the four of them going on and on about the profession.


Being on The Point never gets old.


Amelia showing Marlene the line. These girls are always riding stuff I don’t even attempt.


Not too long after my upside down Desert Tortoise trick I smashed my rim. Instantaneous flat tire when all the sealant spewed out.


I’m getting ready to take the wheel off to put in a tube. I think the girls might’ve been getting a kick out of all my issues. Amelia is giving a sarcastic thumbs up behind my back while they are quietly giggling.


Our last ride with Marlene, the Rock n Roll Trail from our campground. Fun and completely different than all the rock we’d been riding.


Goodbyes. Marlene left for home right after the ride. It sure was awesome having her join us for three rides.


On our off day from biking we did an enjoyable hike on the outskirts of St. George. I have no idea why the trail is called Hellhole. It certainly wasn’t.


Desert Alyssum


Woolly Daisy


The canyon walls towered above us.


This is where we turned around. We would’ve kept going but it was the day we were checking out of the campground. It ended up being a nice little 4 mile hike.


Scarlet Bugler


California Evening Primrose


Three nights at WillowWind RV park. There are three new RV parks in town that are definitely cutting into the WillowWind business. On Friday night we had three empty spaces next to us.


Friday on Wire Mesa, Amelia going down rock, Monica watching, and her daughter following. I was at the Airstream trying to get my crooked body straight.


A beautiful moon set as we left Hurricane at the crack of dawn for a long drive home.

Whale Peak: February 17-21, 2022


Whale Peak, Vallecito Mountains, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park


We had a delightful 3 nights at Agua Caliente County Park over Presidents’ Day weekend. It seems like we are out there all the time, but it’s actually been 3 years since we’ve glamped there. The highlight was summiting Whale Peak on Friday.

Agua Caliente is sort of R’s (Amelia’s dad) second San Diego County home. The guy is out there multiple times during the season and he always stays in the same site for easy access to the pools. There are two things he talks about incessantly. How you can see a green flash at sunrise from the tarmac on the little airport about a half-mile from the campground and Whale Peak.

It’s Whale Peak this and Whale Peak that. The campground has an awesome view of the peak. You can’t help but stare at it while lounging around your campsite. And every time we are out there with him driving to a hike, he’s pointing with his left middle finger, “There’s Whale Peak.”  The road turns and the peak is out of view, then it turns again and there’s R’s left middle finger, “Whale Peak!” It’s pretty funny, most of the time. It’s probably funnier to me since he’s not my dad.

Fifteen years ago, R and another guy, attempted to summit Whale Peak.  Sadly they had to abort early into the hike due to being unclear about the trail, if there even was one back then. We were so geeked to summit it, knowing how much it would mean to R.



Our ten year old 25ft Airstream International Serenity on the left and a new 27ft Airstream Globetrotter. We made the mistake of asking for a tour of the inside. Damn, it’s nice. The improvements and upgrades are amazing.


We absolutely loved this dead cactus art piece.


Rock Daisy


Amelia did a great job dodging the Jumping Cholla, me, not so much.  On our last day I got a piece in my ankle.


And now the Whale Peak hike pictures. We summited via the northern route. It was almost an hour drive to the start, the last six miles on the dirt 4×4 Pinyon Mountain Road. There is nothing marking the trailhead and no signs anywhere on the trail. The path though, for the most part is visible, especially with rock cairns to help you navigate through the large boulder fields that require some hand and foot climbing.  We made a wrong turn at the beginning, after about a quarter mile it became obvious we needed to turn around. Then on the initial descent we got a little off course through the boulders. It’s interesting how going down something is so different from going up. All told it was a six miles, 1,690 feet and two hours each direction.




The start: once we got out of the car it was windy and chilly. It was readily apparent we were not properly dressed and there were quiet thoughts about aborting. But we pushed on, the wind died, and it became perfect hiking weather.



Half-way up, Borrego Springs in the background.


There were still some little snow patches in the shady areas.


A helpful traditional three rock cairn, but most were only two rocks high.  The wind blows the top rock off.  Occasionally there would be only one rock, which left us wondering and looking further ahead. 



At the summit: that’s Agua Caliente in the center.


In the distance, Cuyamaca Peak, Middle Peak, and North Peak.

Panoramic video



Placed in 1939


Lucky us! We got buzzed. What a thrill having a fighter jet scream by right above you.


Descending the boulders: this is where we got a little off track.


Looking back at the boulder field.


The plant variety was amazing.


We were as giddy as can be, being back at the campground and staring up at Whale Peak!


Sunday morning arrived and it was time for us to leave, but we were having too much fun and Amelia had Monday off, so why leave? We checked with a ranger about staying one more night, but our site was booked.  So we headed over to an undisclosed boondock spot. While we were relaxing in the Airstream a couple pulled up, it was obvious they were clueless. He was wandering around looking for a trailhead. Being the nice folk we are, I asked him what he was looking for and he answered Rainbow Canyon. We told him he wasn’t even close. It was a few miles west down the road. The guy was still absolutely clueless and not exactly grateful when Amelia was explaining in detail how to get to Rainbow Canyon and what kind of hike it was. I told the nimrod to hold on a second and I would get the mile marker. I grabbed one of our books, looked it up and told the guy it was mile marker 27.5. He looked at the two of us and said, “What’s a mile marker?”




One last treat before we drove home, a glorious sunrise at our undisclosed boondock spot.

Dead Horse Ranch State Park, Cottonwood, Arizona: December 18-23, 2021


Season’s greetings! 

The Adventure Begins


Unidentified Flying Object?

So, we’re on the US 95 driving through the Yuma Proving Ground on our way to Quartzsite for an overnight stay. We spot this object far away and really high in the sky. It seems to be stationary. If we were anywhere else I would think it was a UFO, but extraterrestrials are too smart to be hovering above this massive US Army installation. Miles later it was directly above us. I’m hanging out the window, being careful not to drop my iPhone, and trying to take pictures of it as Amelia is driving. She says, “Did you see that? It was a sign about the thing in the air.” I was all wrapped up trying to document the sighting and completely missed it. Once you blow by something towing the Airstream, then that’s it, there’s no flipping a U-turn.

But rest assured, the good ol’ internets solved the mystery.

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Tethered Aerostat Radar System

There’s only eleven Tethered Aerostat Radar Systems. They are 208 feet long helium filled blimps and hover anywhere between 10,000-15,000 feet in the sky. US Customs and Border Patrol use them to spot low-flying aircraft that drug smugglers use to bring their drugs into the United States. It can detect activity in distances up to 230 miles. Crazy huh?

The First Stop: Quartzsite, AZ

No judgement here, but Quartzsite is something else. During the winter it’s full of snowbirds, folks living on the edges of society, people just existing, and even nudists. I think it would probably be safe to say a multi-day stay here wouldn’t be our cup of tea, but it’s totally fine for a free one night boondock spot!


Our one night spot in Quartzsite. The crowds are in the Long Term Visitor Areas (LTVA).


Quartzsite boondocking


We caught the full moon rising while in Quartzsite and I was such a good boy this year that Santa came early and gave me a Chumba Stella Titanium Singlespeed.

The Next Four Nights

Dead Horse Ranch State Park is a terrific campground. We highly recommend it, especially if you can get into the Red-tailed Hawk or Cooper’s Hawk loop. The sites are spacious, have water and electric, no sewer, but free showers. In the dead of winter electricity is a must, even more so this trip since we saw nighttime lows of 24 and 25 degrees 🥶. The Airstream furnace keeps the inside nice and toasty. Another plus, the Verizon signal was super strong! So strong we were streaming shows in the evenings.

Sedona is a scenic thirty minute drive away. There’s no denying Sedona is jaw dropping gorgeous, and the mountain biking is world class, but the crowds! Geez, sometimes it’s a little too much for us, so staying in Cottonwood was perfect. We biked two days in Sedona and twice at Dead Horse. The biking is quite good at Dead Horse, but nowhere near as beautiful as Sedona.


There’s our Airstream in site 63 of the Red-tailed Hawk loop.


 The view outside our door

Maybe I’m just old and feeling a bit nostalgic, but I loved this gas station in Cottonwood. Who cares if it costs a nickel more per gallon. A two pump full service island and a two pump self serve island. We opted for the self service. No card swiping at the pump. Just lift the handle and start pumping gas. Then you walk into the office that’s a total mess with deer and elk antlers all over the walls, and pay the man. Our first visit there, I walked into the office and told the old man, “Pump 2.” With a cigarette dangling, he told me, “Great, how much?” “Uh…shit, I don’t know, hold on a sec.” I ran outside and got the dollar figure, came back into his office and told him.

I was really hoping he had an old school credit card imprinter that takes a carbon copy impression of the credit card and requires a signature. But no, he had one of those modern machines that you put your pin in and hit the green button.

Two days later we stopped in again to top off the tank before leaving. I walk into the office, feeling like a local, told the old man, “$35.45.” He definitely recognized me from before and nodded, then grinned. He even chatted me up about how happy he was that the days are finally getting longer.

We had blue skies every day, except of course on the winter solstice. That morning we went to Red Rock State Park for a nice hike. The next five pics are from there.


Oak Creek



My Ansel Adams winter solstice picture



Arizona Sycamore bark



Do you see the deer?



The best wildlife crossing sign…so far.


And finally, some mountain biking pictures of beautiful Sedona.


Red dirt


I got in a little over my head on the Mezcal Trail that we’ve biked multiple times. And I have no idea how it happened. Amelia was on the correct line, oblivious to the fact that I was way above her. A couple of Red Bull type riders were also up there. They looked at me, a 61 year old on a singlespeed and said, “Dude, you should turn around.” That was great advice!


Happy girl!

Instead of spending the night in Quartzsite again on our way home, we decided to drive straight through to San Diego for fear of getting swept away by the pineapple express that was bearing down on California. 461 miles and eight and a half hours.  We got home just in the nick of time. Two hours after unloading the Airstream, the deluge began.

R.I.P. Joan Didion

Tijuana River Valley: November 11-14, 2021


Kudos to the County of San Diego

Well this slipped under our radar. County of San Diego opened a new campground in April: Tijuana River Valley Regional Park Campground. A few weeks ago our friend Jenny went camping there and told us about it. From our house it’s a mere forty minutes, yet a world away. I know I’m always extolling the virtues of San Diego County, but it is truly an amazing place.

This is the first time either of us have been to this area. To our surprise it’s horse country. Driving into the regional park it seemed like every property we passed had horses and stables, with signs advertising horses for rent and beach rides.

The regional park is adjacent to the Border Field State Park. It’s a large swath of undeveloped coastline. From the campground to the ocean it’s a little more than a mile of open land. The only downside, sewage is a serious problem during and after a heavy rainfall. It all comes from Mexico. The Tijuana River originates in the Sierra de Juarez Mountains approximately 45 miles east northeast of Ensenada, flows through Tijuana, crosses the border and empties into the ocean below Imperial Beach. Definitely stay out of the area during and post storm! All that said, we would definitely come back to the newest county campground.

There are many thankless jobs in this country, but Border Patrol must be somewhere near the top of the list. As one would expect being next to the border, the place was buzzing with Border Patrol Agents, a lot of them were on ATV quads. We saw them apprehend a young woman that was by herself. It was heartbreaking. She had plant debris in her long black hair and her clothes were dirty, as if she had been making her way through the bushes, which were dense. She appeared exhausted and defeated as they loaded her into the Border Patrol van.


A peaceful morning and by midday there were multiple Northern Harriers flying inches above the shrub looking for prey.


Across the street from the campground is Spooners Mesa. It quickly rises 370 feet above sea level and offers spectacular views of the Pacific, San Diego, and Tijuana. It accessible only by hiking, biking, or horseback, and of course Border Patrol vehicles. That’s Point Loma in the background.


Tijuana and the wall from Spooners


From Spooners, the empty campground on Thursday. You can see our truck and Airstream behind the yurts. The campground was a little more than half full for the weekend.


Don’t disturb this marker, again on Spooners Mesa.


The Tijuana River Watershed is quite large.


The Border Patrol has more high tech equipment for surveillance than you can imagine, but they still utilize the dragging tires trick to spot fresh footprints crossing a road.


Just in case you didn’t know.


And just a few miles north is Coronado. We rode the Bayshore Bikeway (Silver Strand) for the first time. Paved and flat is a big disadvantage for single speed mountain bikers. Amelia was so far in front of me it was ridiculous.


I came across some fresh bobcat scat in the middle of the road one morning. Apparently this is a thing they do, pooping in the middle of a road or trail.


It’s kind of crazy we’ve never been here.


How apropos, the parking lot for the Border Field State Park, has a mini mesh chain link fence surrounding what, I don’t know, with really cool artwork and concertina wire on top.




Amazing. The roadrunner and coyote are really cool. The lower human leg, now that’s something.


How about that bone in the middle and the Snowy Plover.


Amelia loved the detail of the horny toad.


A beautiful field of Garden Nasturtium about a quarter mile into the Border Field State Park.


Two cairns and Amelia

Protecting the Western Snowy Plover


A pretty, late afternoon, direct into the sun shot.


This unmarked, but we are assuming Border Patrol helicopter, kept flying along the coastline.


Bullring by the Sea and the Tijuana Lighthouse.


The wall. On late Friday, October 29th of this year, one woman drowned, and anywhere from thirteen to thirty six people (depending on what news you read) were pulled from the water and arrested trying to swim around the wall to enter the United States.


On Saturday we rode our bikes to catch a fabulous sunset at Border Field State Park. That’s the Coronado Islands on the horizon.

I’d like to leave you with this song from Rodney Crowell.

Buttermilk Country: October 22-26, 2021


A section on the third leg of Lower Rock Creek trail.

I had the opportunity to go help my buddy Eric hunt deer in the Buttermilk Country west of Bishop, California. Normally this wouldn’t be a blog post, but I know how much everyone loves beautiful scenery photos!

We stayed in his trailer at Pleasant Valley Owens River Campground. Opening day was Saturday. I arrived on Friday so I could bike one of my favorite trails: Lower Rock Creek. We hunted Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. Yes, this was in the middle of the big storm that hit California.

We saw over a hundred does and more than a dozen bucks. Eric was looking for a trophy buck with at least a 5×5 rack, and he wasn’t going to settle for anything less. We saw a few 4x4s and one giant with a wide 5×5 rack but he was out of range. Eric is still up there hunting for his elusive trophy buck.


The first leg of Lower Rock Creek is out of sight down in the trees.


I took this pic because it’s one of Amelia’s favorite sections of the third leg of Lower Rock Creek.


Pleasant Valley Owens River Campground is no frills.


I slept in the bunk. It’s a tough deal when you get up often in the night to take a leak. It’s even tougher after two beers and a sleeping aid. One night I missed the second step on the ladder and fell like a sack of potatoes. It was a miracle I didn’t crack open my skull or break a bone. It scared the hell out of Eric.




Amazing morning light


The yellow Rabbitbrush was vivid.


Even a color blind guy could see the colors.


I love the cloud shadows.


Sunrise over the Buttermilks


And then Mother Nature treated us to a rainbow.


Sunday night the temperature dropped and it snowed on the Buttermilks, the White Mountains in the background were white. What a difference a night makes.


4 p.m. Monday, 8,000 feet elevation, looking down on the Buttermilks and the Owens Valley.


Eric, he hunts and fishes like I mountain bike…all the time!


The grand finale. Mount Humphreys, at 13,992 feet it’s the highest peak in the Bishop area.

Navy Seals at Mt. Laguna: August 9-12, 2021

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A Navy Seal candidate in Mt. Laguna.  (Photo from the internet.) 

The Navy Seals do land navigation training at Mt. Laguna! Who knew? We certainly didn’t. It’s the third and final phase of Basic Underwater Demolition/Seal Training. While we were biking we kept seeing young men in full military fatigues with heavily loaded backpacks. One evening two of them were walking through the campground so I asked, “What’s up? What are you guys doing?”  His response was, “Land nav.” Amelia asked if it was fun. The first guy said, “No.” The second guy was dragging and didn’t say anything.  At this point we still didn’t know who these guys were.

We were also seeing super fit guys in dark blue t-shirts. They didn’t seem approachable, so we didn’t really ask them a bunch a questions. Later we found out they were the Seal instructors.

On our last day of riding there was a commotion in the meadow with a Sheriff’s helicopter. We couldn’t tell if it was a rescue or a training. The guy we were talking to while watching the helicopter was very knowledgeable, and we assumed he was just a hiker.  We told him about all the young guys doing land nav. He said yeah, he was one of the instructors. So naturally I asked why he wasn’t in a dark blue t-shirt like all the other guys. His response was, “It makes it too easy for them to see me.” He’s been a Seal for twenty years and answered all our questions. He was one of those guys you could easily talk to for hours. Our brief conversation was quite fascinating.



We are finally at the age where we have a twirly pinwheel! The Meadow loop of the Laguna Campground is very nice. The only downside is cell reception is sketchy at best.


Nail in the tire!  Buzzkill! It’s such an inconvenience. My muscle mass is definitely diminishing. It was like a wrestling match changing the tire. Nothing like driving around without a spare! At least it wasn’t on the Airstream.


Mt. Laguna Observatory, established in 1968, owned and operated by San Diego State University at 6,100 feet elevation.


Gorgeous afternoon, the meadow was about fifty yards from our campsite.


This cool guy was camping.


So were these two cool guys.


Prickly Poppy


Big Sagebrush, really, I’m not joking, that’s the name of the plant, Big Sagebrush.


We did the short hike up to Garnet Peak.


Amelia spotted a Horny Toad on the way up. This little guy was about three inches long.


Amelia at the summit. It’s only 5,900 feet, but the views are magnificent. We experienced it on a rare calm day. Usually it’s one of the windiest spots in San Diego County.

360 degree views


California Goldenrod



Mountain Mahogany


A midnight storm equals hero dirt the next morning! Tacky, not dusty, and the best dirt to ride on.


Helicopter commotion in the meadow


Dang! I was going to make a nice slow cooker chili. 😭


Adios Laguna Meadow