Don't dawdle; Get to the sun!
Well, that was my thought as I zoomed down I-5 towards Southern California. For my first winter trip, I was concerned about going through mountain passes pulling a trailer so I thought the valley would be a good bet.
WRONG! Traffic was hideous (Seattle bad!) with everyone driving way to fast and tailgating and cutting-in. Nothing like trying to navigate by gps to an unfamiliar location in the dark, pulling a trailer, with folks speeding all around you - I white-knuckled for almost 2 days! Oregon had heavy ground fog and California had 'air stagnation' which is, I guess, the politically correct term for a heavy brown layer of smog that stung my eyes. Next year I'll brave the mountain passes!
A couple highlights though:
Stopping for gas in Roseburg, OR (you can tell you're in the country when . . . ) I saw a Mom with a baby on one hip and a pretty big pistol on the other!
Driving over Mt Ashland in heavy ground fog in the late afternoon, the light was beautiful! The light alternated between a lovely golden hue, pink and finally a really unique cool blue that reminded me of the blue I've seen in glaciers. Crossing Shasta Lake, there was a huge, full moon against the dying light.
Two days later, my first real Boondock!
Dove Springs, OHV, North of Red Rocks Canyon State Park on Highway 14. I arrived on a Thursday and it was blessedly quiet, sunny and peaceful. I even had Joshua trees! I spent a couple of days there while I visited the BLM Horse and Burro facility near Ridgecrest, and spent a lot of time soaking up the sun. Saturday morning at 1:00 AM I was awakened by the sound of off-road vehicles buzzing up and down the road – time to leave this camp!
|Aren't they cute!|
Next stop – Death Valley National Park!
The biggest national park in the lower 48, DV is also one of the hottest places on earth (at least that's what all the T-shirts in the gift shop say). In July, 1913, a temperature of 134 was recorded, and that was in the shade! Ground temps can go over 200. This time of year, the highs are in the mid-to-high 70's with lows down around freezing.
|My first glimpse of Death Valley|
I drove in on Hwy 190 from the west over the Panamint Mountains – very steep and curvy road! I spent several days at Stovepipe Wells CG enjoying the perfect weather.
Mesquite Sand Dunes are just a short bike ride from Stovepipe Wells, I had fun on the dunes there and took lots of photos for Japanese tourists.
I also hiked Mosaic Canyon – a beautiful slot canyon for the first little bit and then it opens up to a wider canyon.