"Two roads diverged in a yellow wood... And sorry I could not travel both. I took the one less traveled by. And that has made all the difference." --Robert Frost

Tuesday, May 9, 2023

Watching the Baja 600 Race & A Birthday!

Goldfield, Nevada
Gem Rd - Boondocking 

It's a short drive on Hwy 178 from Shoshone to Pahrump.  The scenery is so pretty!
Just outside of town I had read something about a castle in the rock.  There isn't any info I could find and the gal at the museum told me about it.  We didn't have room with the trailer to pull off but I got this picture as we drove by.  You can see a window and the door just below it.  
There was this strange oily looking stripe in the hillside.
Pahrump, NV
Elks Lodge
We spent one night at the Elks in Pahrump to dump tanks, take on water, refill our propane and grocery shop. W/50/Dump, $20.

We got a drink inside and they gave us an amazing Welcome Bag of goodies!

While we've been to Goldfield recently, once we figured out we'd be crossing paths with our friends, we had to stop again.  We both only had a couple of days but it was Tina's birthday so we celebrated in the desert in our boondocking site on Gem Rd.
We brought our chairs outside and dined al fresco!  We had lights and candles and enjoyed a great birthday dinner under the stars.
Tina, the Birthday Girl!
Happy Birthday!
I made a Ricotta Cheesecake topped with whipped cream and berries.

We wandered around and not far from our site we came upon some old mining ruins.

An old ore car.
The Yucca's are getting ready to bloom.
Joshua Trees.

The next day we found out, by pure luck, that the Baja Nevada 600-Mile Race was driving right through the area, just up Gem Rd. from us.  Today's race was 295 miles from Pahrump to Tonopah over desert terrain.  On some sections the different types of vehicles got up to 120mph!  We met with some of the race volunteers and had an up-front view as they flew past!  There were motorcycles, razors, trucks and special off road vehicles.
Volunteers checking the racers off as they fly by.
Turn up the speakers to hear the power these vehicles have!
Catchin' some air!
This guy almost missed the turnoff!
Even though our visit was short, it was a blast!  Time for us to get back to family in Placerville and them to get back to family in Reno.

On our way driving towards Tonopah where the end of this route is, we passed a couple staging areas.  A helicopter was following some of the racers.
Saw this guy near Tonopah.
There always seems to be something different when we drive through Beatty.
Not sure what this will be but it's pretty cool looking.
We decided to boondock outside Gardnerville instead of the Elks since we'd only be here to sleep.
We did get to see a beautiful sunset over the Eastern Slope of the Sierra Nevada.
Our boondocking spot was on the outskirts of the tiny fairgrounds that borders some BLM land.  The blue dot is us.  The yellow/brown area is BLM.  We just made sure we were at the very far end of the dirt parking area.  Nice and quiet.
Here are the coordinates.  38.96818  -119.678329
Hwy 88 from Gardnerville leading to Placerville has the most gorgeous scenery at the boarder of NV/CA.  I just love the big farms out here and fancy ranches.  The cows love the thick grasses that grow from all the snow run-off.

And a couple of hours later we are back in Placerville.

Sunday, May 7, 2023

Date Farm in a Desert Oasis & Miner's Caves

Shoshone, CA
Furnace Creek, Boondocking 

Our next fun stop is just an hours drive north on Rt 127 (Death Valley Rd.).  It's an area we haven't driven through before and I always get a kick out of being on a new road, seeing new country.  The road was nice, and the scenery changed from different colored hills, to open desert with some interesting landscapes and old ranches from days long ago.  You slowly climbed and dropped back down.  Do make sure to top off your gas in Baker where it's much cheaper and easier to come by.
35.90613N, 116.29678W
With a left turn onto Furnace Creek Washington Rd, we scout for our boondocking spot.  There's plenty out here but we had to be in just the right spot to be able to get cell service.  The above coordinates were perfect.  There is almost no cell out here.  Not even in the tiny towns of Tecopa or Shoshone.
One of the reasons to come way out here is to visit the China Ranch Date Farm.  My parents had been here many, many years ago and always talked about it.  Seems we are almost the only ones of several of our RV friends who hadn't been here yet.  You drive way down this blah, dry road as you wonder, "So where is this big Palm Oasis?"

No trailers down this narrow, steep dirt road so don't even try it!  You pass some old mining caves along the way.
Finally you come around a bend and see some green!
You'll drive past some groves of Date Palms as you enter China Ranch.

We bought some Date Bread and cookies to bring back to my parents and Steve had one of the famous Date Shakes.
I walked around enjoying all the colorful cactus blooms.

After our goodies we set out to hike to see the waterfall and slot canyon.  Unfortunately, it was a later start for us but our time here was quite limited.  It was already getting hot.
(Turn up your speakers to hear what a million bees sound like on these blooms)
The Mesquite Trees were in full bloom!  I've never seen them bloom. The trees/bushes were covered in big yellow flowers.  The sound of the bees enjoying them was super loud.  
We hiked about 8 miles to get to the slot canyon and back.  It starts in a tunnel of those flowering Mesquite Trees while I did my best to ignore all the bees.  You follow the sounds of tiny Willow Creek, then it veers away with a jungle of Mesquite filling the basin as you walk above it.  It's thick and thorny!

What's left of The Assayers Office from long ago.
Maybe this short cave was where the money and gold were kept?
Following the Amargosa Trail, Willow Creek merges with the Amargosa River. At this point we are also hiking on the old raised railbed of the Tonopa and Tidewater (T&T) Railroad built around the turn of the century.  It also follows part of the Old Spanish Trail. The river isn't really much of a river.  There was just a small shallow flow here in May.
The rail ties have been removed but you can see where the railroad used to go.  It was really getting hot in this part of the valley.  

The hills and formations were every color of the rainbow.  Really impressive. It reminds us of parts of Death Valley which isn't that far from here.
The Amargosa River.  Over the board we crossed and then headed back into the wash.  
It was difficult to walk in the loose, deep sand and gravel.  We're headed back to that cave in the distance.

Steve entering the slot.

It wasn't very long but it was tall and beautiful as slots always are.  If you are here in the wet part of the year you may see a couple of seasonal waterfalls.  They were already dried up before we got here.
A Desert Five Spot.  These pretty flowers poked up in the wash.
We continued a bit further but could not find any signage for the waterfall that flows here a bit longer in the season.  We scanned further up the river but could not see anything that looked promising.  Despite our hats, the heat was starting to get scorching and I was really feeling it despite all the water I drank.  We decided to head back as we still had 4 miles to go.  Once back we cooled off in the truck's A/C and decided to drive to the palms to cut off another mile of hiking.  Then we hiked a bit through the cool palms.
It was damp and cool and the breeze felt fantastic.  The birds were chirping and it was very peaceful.
It's strange to see what looks like a bunch of ghosts hanging below the palms.  These are actually Muslim sacks which are hung around the dates to keep birds and insects away before harvesting.

So many yummy dates looking up at them.
On the way out of the we saw some arches and windows in the rock above.
If you are anywhere near Pahrump, Nevada, I'd highly recommend a visit to China Ranch.
When we got back we just enjoyed the silence of being the only ones out here. 
The dark skies were one of the best!  The clear conditions were perfect for star gazing.  I was really surprised how well my i-phone picked up the stars. 

The next day we drove 5 miles north to Shoshone to visit their museum and then the miners homes built into the hills in Dublin Gulch.
There was a lot of information on local area, geography, etc.  We loved the stories of the Mammoths and the jaw that was found here.
We found the crash remains of the SR-71 Blackbird #953 the most interesting.  Since Steve spent 4 years in the Air Force working on jet fighter electronic warfare systems, these planes always interest us.  On December 18, 1969, two pilots were performing a Functional Check Flight which included climbing to 25,000 feet to meet up with a refueling plane, then climb to 60,000 feet to light the afterburners and enter supersonic flight.  However, a loud band and vibrations eventually caused the plane to nose up and lose power.  The pilots ejected and safely made it back down.  The plane crashed in a huge fireball.  Later investigations found that some duct tape rolled up to the size of a cigarette had been left behind from an electrical repair.   This caused a lag in the static pressure available to the flight instruments and the actual altitude climbs and descends.

A short drive down a dirt road opposite the museum brought us to Dublin Gluch. Very impressive!

Quite small, but all they needed to sleep and stay cool in the summer and warm in winter.

You could still see some old mattress springs in some of the caves.
Around the grounds are piles and piles of old tin cans.  Probably lots of beans, fruit and anchovies.
The community outhouse.

This was the only one that you could walk in.

Part of the mine.
On our way back to pavement we found another rock in the duallies.  We call these Taters as they are usually the shape and size of a large potato.  It came out much easier than the one we picked up earlier this year.  No crowbar or jacking needed.
These miner dwellings were unique to us and we enjoyed exploring them.  Now, off to find a brewery.
Well, it wasn't really a brewery.  It used to be Death Valley Brewing, but now it's just a small cafe.  They did serve beer, but not brewed there.  They are imported from other areas.  Steve got a sample of 3 and I opted to check out the Date Ice Cream Covered Brownie.  None of it was very good.
Since the population of both Tecopa and Shoshone are less than 150 people, it doesn't surprise me that the food quality is just so-so.  Tecopa is better known for their hot springs. Unfortunately, men and women have to soak separately in small closed in sheds rooms.  No clothes are allowed to be worn as they don't want fibers or chemicals getting into the water.  There were 2 other springs but neither of the other two looked too appealing to us.  If you camped at their tiny campground you could soak for free.  Otherwise, there was a fee.  We tried to check out the mud springs, but there were too many people there.  Not the most enticing hot springs we've been to.
While Steve finished his beer, I watched this Roadrunner hunting for lizards.  He was very successful.  In the morning we will head to Pahrump, NV to dump our tanks and take on water at the Elks Lodge.  Then it's off to Goldfield on our way home to celebrate our friend, Tina's, birthday!