Spring Break 2017: Reno and Crossing California

After hiking Mt. Davidson, I headed for Sparks to get some In-N-Out and Great Basin beer. It was IPA month so, of course, I ordered the sampler special. I liked most everything except for the White Eye P.A. (which didn’t surprise me at all).

Finding a place to camp that night was a little difficult. I did notice there was a train on Keddie Wye when I passed it (I came through that way in 2009) which was exciting.

The next day, I spent a bunch of time in a Starbucks in Oroville just catching up on life. Because I don’t have internet at home right now, I feel like I always have emails to write and things to do. I left Starbucks and headed for Sierra Nevada’s brewery in Chico. I didn’t book a tour ahead of time so I had to settle for a couple samplers of their less distributed beers.

That night, I wound up struggling, again, to find a place to camp. I thought I had a good spot but I actually got the van stuck in the morning trying to get it out because it rained ALL NIGHT. Thanks so much to the powerline workers who helped me out of a tough spot!

I sampled a bunch of cheese at Loleta Cheese factory had a fabulous grilled cheese at Queso Kings attached to the factory. After giving the van a quick wash and vacuum, I met up with Kelly after work and returned her big green beast to her. We went to Mad River Brewing for dinner and enjoyed some live music.

The next day, Kelly had to go to work so I spent the morning poking around Eureka. I took advantage of a break in the rain to walk downtown and then spent most of the morning dashing between stores as it poured. I found myself in Humboldt Bay Provisions for lunch because oysters. And then I did it up and ordered a lot of oysters and some wine because it just felt like the right thing to do.

After lunch, I made my way back to Kelly’s. When she got home we went for beer at Redwood Curtain, bought some crowlers to take home, and ordered a pizza. Back at her house we spent the evening listening to 90s rap, doing crosswords, and eating all the pizza.

My trip home was, as I expected flying from small airport to small airport, long. I somehow made it home just after midnight and was SO EXCITED TO SEE MY SPROCKET.

On-The-Road Friends: Glamis, California to Quartzsite, Arizona

While we were in Glamis, F observed that five bicyclists had ridden up and were making camp near us. Glamis is full of all sorts of motorized recreation and bicyclists are really an anomaly so it took me a minute to actually process what he was actually talking about. Curious about what they were up to, we wandered over to introduce ourselves.

Lisa, Spencer, Miriam, and Tok had just met up with Tyler, a fellow Southern Tier traveler as they pulled into the dunes looking for a place to camp. Over a round of beers, we talked about our travels. F and I decided to pull the camper over near their tents to have a shared camp. We invited them to cook their dinner in the camper where Tok whipped together a delicious noodle and soup dish for us all. We chatted until the weary bicyclists were ready for bed and in the morning we said our goodbyes.

Several hours later, F and I made camp along the shores of the Colorado River at the “hippie hole” near Cibola, Arizona. As we relaxed, we thought of our fellow travelers pedaling our way and F decided he’d take the truck back to the highway and invite them down to our camp again. Tyler had continued on to Blythe but the other riders were happy to join us at our cozy little spot. This time, we spent a quiet evening relaxing next to the campfire as the evening chill began to fall swapping stories of travel, life, books, and adventure.

In the morning, we said our goodbyes once again before Lisa, Spencer, Miriam, and Tok pressed on. As we passed them several miles up the road, we pulled over and invited them to join us at our camp in Quartzsite. Happily, they agreed and we had a mid-afternoon rendezvous at the grocery store in Blythe so we could ferry their groceries to camp.

When they rode into camp at dusk, they had Tyler with them! It quickly became chilly outside. I would never have believed it but we managed to pack all seven of us into the camper for a lovely dinner party. Lisa made a delicious meal of sausages, salad, and potatoes while conversation flowed.

This time, as the intrepid bicyclists rode eastward, it really was goodbye. It was wonderful to get to know new people, especially fellow travelers and adventurers. We cannot wait to meet you again somewhere on the road!

Slab City: Salvation Mountain Sunset

Having experimented with Salvation Mountain photos at sunrise, this time I headed out at sunset to make some photos of the landmark.

The low angled rays shining directly on the front of the “mountain” really light up the colors in cool ways:

I chatted with this group from San Francisco for awhile as the sun sank below the mountain horizon. They’d driven all the way down to watch sunset here!

My favorite part, though, was looking out to see Red Island (right) and Red Hill (left) that we’d climbed earlier in the day!

Sand Dune Workout

When we arrived at the sand dunes in Glamis on Thursday afternoon I knew I had to get in a workout so instead of choosing a nice leisurely run, I decided to tackle the sand dunes with a combination of running up the side and running along the crest of the dune.

My quads were burning by the end of the workout: the last lap back to my “starting point” was tough. I leave Monday morning for the #omnigames. I’m ready.

Below Sea Level Peakbagging

Hanging out below sea level leaves few opportunities to grab a summit or two. However, F and I decided it would be a good idea to end 2013 with a bang and head out to Red Hill Marina for a couple of “summits” after we checked out the mud pots: Red Island (-137′) and Red Hill (-127′).

Sprocket was a big fan of the mud near the Alamo River:

From the park, we ambled down toward the beach, past some cool looking rock formations. The Salton Sea is down from it’s highest levels leaving a salt encrusted perimeter. The air smelled salty like being at the ocean but yet I could see mountains across the Sea.

After poking around on the beach, I headed over to Red Hill (on the right) and then over to Red Island (on the left).

We loved exploring the park and I really got a kick out of grabbing another couple of below-sea-level summits for 2013. It made for a really nice adventure for the three of us!

Mud Pots

Last year when we were at the Slabs we spent most of our time exploring the Slabs themselves rather than checking out the surrounding area. I’ve heard a couple of times about mud pots located out near the Salton Sea. This year, we headed out to see what there was to see.

It was totally fascinating! We both kept calling it Yellowstone without fences. Most of the features appeared to be “cold” and just emitting sulfur gas although we did find one that was warm.

If you’re visiting the Slabs, it’s definitely worth the drive to check it out!

Slab City: Riding in a Kit Fox

One afternoon we were relaxing near the van when a “strange” airplane flew overhead. Forrest watched it awhile and noticed that it seemed to be landing in the Slabs somewhere. Later that afternoon when we went for a walk we found Jack and his Kit Fox taxing back down the road to his RV.

Since I’d never been in a plane smaller than a commercial jet, we decided that now was as good a time as any. I was a little unsure about the whole thing but Forrest insisted that I go for it. I’m so glad I did! What a crazy experience taxing down the rutted pavement of Slab City then getting up in the air to see the Salton Sea, some of the Chocolate Mountain firing range, and of course The Slabs.

An airplane in the Slabs?
Who? Me? Ride?
Getting ready for takeoff
Preparing to taxi…
…down the street.
Coming in for a landing. Watch out cars!

Slab City: East Jesus

One of our adventures in the Slabs was visiting East Jesus. East Jesus is an artist community on the edge of Slab City founded by Stephen Russell. Our tour guide was able to tell us some interesting stories behind the art installations in the courtyard and also showed us the “behind the scenes” workings of East Jesus including the community’s library, kitchen, solar facilities, and outdoor living space.

The Revolution Will Not Be Televised
“Definition of a grievance” (2009), Joe Holliday
Decorated car
I love this little dude.

If you’re ever in the Slabs, this is definitely one of the things not to miss! (Be sure to grab a tour. We’re not much for following a tour guide around but the narration on the art definitely added to it for me.)

Arizona to Slab City, CA

The day after Christmas we left our desert camp for “Slab City.” Always looking for a fresh adventure, we took a dirt road to Cibola, Arizona and crossed the Colorado into California there. After a brief stop at the Imperial Sand Dunes for Sprocket to play a bit, we drove up to Niland, California and the Slabs.

Cibola, Arizona
Sprocket swims in the Colorado River
Imperial Sand Dunes
The boys