Strolling Amok

Pops goes on tour.

Archive for the tag “Travel”

Ferguson Lake

The west end of Ferguson Lake.

The west end of Ferguson Lake.

The BLM’s road to Ferguson Lake heads northward from the Imperial Dam LTVA near Yuma, Arizona. This BLM800 gravel road carries the Ferguson name and heads discreetly into the hills. An impulsive desire to see what Ferguson Lake is like quickly leads to wonderment, because the road soon goes up hill and down dale, coming close to needing 4WD in the nose-heavy Ford pickup at times.

The east end of Ferguson Lake, from the same high vantage point.

The east end of Ferguson Lake, from the same high vantage point.

I was going to write that, “aside from washboard and rocky bumps here and there, this road is not unduly rugged since high clearance and 4WD are not required”. I was going to write that until some motorhome campers I know here tore the Read more…

Free 14-day? In LTVA? Yah Hey!

The turnoff for 727 is just prior to the one for Coyote Ridge.

The turnoff for 727 is just prior to the one for Coyote Ridge.

You don’t say! No way! Before you cough up your last meal, I’ll simply say that I was surprised to find two areas just at the borders of the Imperial Dam LTVA that are signed as officially open to free 14-day camping. I never knew they existed, as all I could find were Mittry Lake (to be covered in a later post), several Recreation Fee areas (also to be covered), and day use or camping prohibited areas. I mention them here just to provide another free option to those wanting to stay in a secluded, traditional desert camping area for free. Unlike Yuma’s roadside sand areas I’ve seen elsewhere, both of these BLM areas together had just one camper between them. You want privacy? Here it is.

This is merely a closer view of the same 727 signpost.

This is merely a closer view of the same 727 signpost.

Neither imposes any demands for either ground clearance or 4WD. I could tow the Defiant into either, which is really saying something. The only thing I wouldn’t do is drive a maxo-motorhome in blind. There are tons of these within the LTVA borders, but these 14-day areas should be seen first before taking an extremely heavy, low-clearance vehicle in. It’s a prudence thing. Turn-around areas are limited, but there.

To get there from Route 95, the same west turn is made on Imperial Dam Road to head for the Imperial Dam LTVA. Once a couple of miles past the entrance to Mittry Lake, the usual turn is made on Read more…

More Imperial Dam LTVA

Well, if you’ve had enough of Imperial Dam LTVA (long-term visitor’s area), prepare to suffer. You see, this huge area offers a commendable amount of options and visuals, and can hardly be covered in a single post attempting to sum it all up in one shot – or three. All I’ll do here is lay out a pile of photos, and explain them with captions.

You've seen vistas, and now, this is the pits - Gravel Pit Road. This lower area offers respite from the wind as well as a relatively miserable cellular signal.

You’ve seen vistas, and now, this is the pits – Gravel Pit Road. This lower area offers respite from the wind as well as a relatively miserable cellular signal.

This is just a reminder that if the scenery doesn't do it for you one day, the sky might.

This is just a reminder that if the scenery doesn’t do it for you one day, the sky might.

Read more…

Departing Quartzsite

One of two engine-powered hang gliders lazily makes for home at sunset.

One of two engine-powered hang gliders lazily makes for home at sunset.

I hadn’t planned on leaving Quartzsite for Yuma, AZ until mid-December, but upcoming cool weather is urging me to get rolling no later than Wednesday of this week (three days from now). After that point, overnight lows are predicted to be in the low 30s all the way down to 28.

The ’94 Gulf Stream Innsbruck is a “temperate weather only” trailer, which means that insulation is functionally cosmetic, and that some of the plumbing is exposed directly to outside temps. The Tankmin freshwater tank in the Ford can fend for itself simply by sheer mass, but the trailer fill hose and related fittings are prone to freezing and plugging up. Inaccessible, freeze-damaged plumbing does not appeal to me, so while most other RVers in travel trailers can easily brave whatever comes, I find it prudent to run for cover when temps approach freezing. I can stay quite comfortable, but it’s a damage risk I choose not to take.

Why so touchy about temps merely approaching freezing? My mercury and electronic Read more…

Rainbow Acres Exploration

The hills all around Quartzsite appear to be made up of rubble! Piles of rocks, sand and gravel.

The hills all around Quartzsite appear to be made up of rubble! Piles of rocks, sand and gravel.

The other day I decided to visit the odd, isolated little development I’d seen off in the distance. From far away, the buildings made it look like an industrial area rather than a housing development. I wanted to find out badly enough to spend the one or two gallons of diesel fuel that it would take. So I looped around to the north on paved roads from Quartzsite itself, went west, and then south to get there.

Rainbow Acres.

Rainbow Acres.

Turns out it was a small remnant of a failed housing development called Rainbow Acres. What was there was nicely done, but was only a small fraction of what had been laid out for it. I cruised the streets to find that each lot was ringed with low brick walls. Many were for sale, but at about $70K for a bare lot, these folks apparently were unaware of the housing collapse. This is fairly low land, and washes interrupt the lots here and there to allow storm water to Read more…

Another View

After sunset.

After sunset.

The photo above is simply one taken after a cloudless sunset. Even with some digital massaging, the many layers of mountains forming the background aren’t really discernible. You gotta be there to see it (or I need to learn how to use that camera better)!

The existential essence of a bike tire. Since this is a British-brand bike, maybe I should say bike tyre.

The existential essence of a bike tire. Since this is a British-brand bike, maybe I should say bike tyre.

The photo above is my bike’s front tire. I figured that it has earned some recognition since the long series of leaking inner tubes is over now, thanks to a pair of super-thick Slime tubes that are working great. They’re heavy, but when all you care about is getting there, they do the job. These are the Raleigh’s original 1993-ish tires, which are showing no signs of disintegrating in the sun. The tread design is superb on both gravel and pavement, since the linked center rib eliminates the unnerving vibration common to many aggressively-lugged bike tires. The bike’s Shimano derailleurs and shifters aren’t too happy with all the grit and dust out here, but are hanging in there when used regularly.

Tyson’s Wash Petroglyphs

Tyson's Wash is like the Mississippi in a heavy rain, only not as slow. These rocks were buried in sand two years ago, and became exposed because of turbulence.

Tyson’s Wash is like the Mississippi in a heavy rain, only not as slow. These rocks were buried in sand two years ago, and became exposed because of turbulence.

Tyson’s Wash is a pretty interesting place, being the main water thoroughfare through Quartzsite, AZ. It is mainly a flowing depression of deep sand, and much of it is hundreds of feet wide. Most of the time, it’s parched. But when rains come in sufficient quantity, it is full, and moving fast. I went to see it yesterday while searching out an appropriate campsite with one C. Swankie, an RVer with considerable energy and fortitude. Since she has a degree in archeology, she served as my tour guide while on foot. Her blog is here, and be ready to be amazed by her Bucket List. She’s one of those people – just reading her bucket list makes me feel tired!

The path to get to the petroglyphs was obvious and easy, to a point. Once in the vicinity, a few abrupt washouts made chassis clearance a concern, but 4WD was never needed. Once at the wash, a quick drop-off ended Read more…

Overton, NV to Quartzsite, AZ

Passing "Snowbird Mesa" just south of Overton. See the camper up there?

Passing “Snowbird Mesa” just south of Overton. See the camper up there?

I began the trip toward Quartzsite with an “oopsie!”  The GPS wanted me to continue south through some beautiful, winding terrain. I passed a mesa clogged with boondocking campers, and then came up to the Lake Mead entrance, which was blockaded due to the shutdown. The GPS showed no interest in the single road going to the right, so I doubled back and lost three gallons of fuel in getting to I-15 heading for Las Vegas. I did put Lake Mead on my list of places to camp in, however. With Overton so close, that mesa would be a fab place to boondock.

Still near Lake Mead, the landscape is right there near you.

Still near Lake Mead, the landscape is right there near you.

US 95, running along California’s border with Arizona, is a throwback to the days of what highway travel used to be like 50 years ago. Unlike more modern roadways that are carved into Read more…

Wendover to Overton, NV

Heading out from Wendover along 93 Alt was the only part of the day's trip that met expectations.

Heading out from Wendover along 93 Alt was the only part of the day’s trip that met expectations. After some 30 miles, it was all new territory in some way or other.

It was starting to get a little nippily at the Bonneville Salt Flats, so to avoid burning through a lot more propane, I decided to head southward. It was rain off and on all day. Turns out that the day’s climb in altitude put me up into the snowline! The rain turned to snow, and it stuck on everything but the pavement. I haven’t driven this rig on ice to this point, and there were small patches of it here and there. Now I’ve certainly driven on ice  in my lifetime, and plenty of it. In a car, it can be fun. A loaded 3/4-ton truck has great stability, but can be clumsy and hard to predict on slippery surfaces once its limit is reached. Add a heavy trailer with a weight distributing hitch, and ice is no longer your plaything. Everything went okay, though I was eager to get through Ely and get to lower elevations and higher temps. Ely’s forecast for the day was snow with a current temp of 33, then a high of 50 before it hit the low 20’s that night. Unappealing. My 8,000 BTU Mr. Heater will handle the trailer down to about 30, and that’s it. Without heat, the trailer will settle in at 5-10 degrees over whatever is going on outside, making for an interesting early morning routine.

Alone in the paved universe, I am master of all I survey.

Alone in the paved universe, I am master of all I survey.

Despite many hills, the combination of overall descent and a brisk tailwind pumped fuel mileage up to a solid 14 MPG, something I may not see again in my lifetime with this rig. I did have to climb from Wendover’s 4,200′ to Ely’s 6,400′, but from there on in, Read more…

Nope. No Soap.

DSCN0167wtmk

Hanging out on the salt, since there’s nothing better to do.

Well, it went down to the wire. The hope was that today’s spectacular sun and breeze would dry out mile 7, which is about where the two-wheelers would pop their chutes at max speed. It just refused to dry out, though. Mike Cook, the organizer of the event, was forced to cancel it for good for 2013.  If it won’t be safe, it can’t happen. How safe one can be while approaching 400 MPH is debatable, but there’s just no point shoveling in more risk.

So, I wandered around and saw a lowered and huffed (turbocharged) VW New Beetle and wandered over to find its crew in good spirits despite the cancellation. Racers are a tenacious bunch, and seem to roll with the punches more easily than many. As a rule, they’re also welcoming by nature – you can just barge in and join them without the usual “who’s this guy?” looks. There was a bright young lady among them who definitely sounded like Read more…

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