Eastern Sierra Nevada mid pandemic


After three months of basically home quarantine, our thoughts turn to the beauty and freedom of the lovely Eastern Sierra Nevada. So we call the family and invite them along for a camping trip. And we are off for an adventure and hopefully some fish!

First stop the semi ghost town of Randsburg, quite buttoned up at this time. We stopped at the city jail to deposit grand daughter Hailey, but she escaped.

Checking in to Boulder Creek we are disappointed the pool is closed due to the pandemic so we pop over to Diaz Lake.  Hailey tries her luck at fishing:

Alan tries his luck at swimming.

We were accompanied by several yellow-headed blackbirds. One swooped down an stole a french fry out of my hand. There were males, females and several young.

Boulder Creek Campground was open at about 1/3 capacity. Pool and spa closed. Jim and Linda came for a socially acceptable distant visit and we exchanged stories about our days and friends at Hollywood High School back in the 60s.

Jim Newton – now a resident of Lone Pine. Below we reminisce.

Boulder Creek is home to more than a dozen desert tortoises.

 

Heading north we decided to drive up to Whitney Portals to fish in the pond and partake of the humongas pancakes but the road was closed at the start of the Lucy & Dezi Long Long Trailer scenic road. We opted to take Hailey on an adventure through the Alabama Hills on the Movie Road. Jim took us to sites we had missed before.

Moving north we checked into McGee Creek RV Park – a jumping off point for adventures beyond.


Fishing at Gull lake. As usual NO FISH.

FAMILY TIME AT BENTON CROSSING. SURVIVING GALE FORCE WINDS.

 

ENOUGH FISH FOR AN APPETIZER

Lots of social distancing in the Desert! Anza Borrego, Blythe, Lake Havasu

Flaunting stay home orders, we took off for Anza Borrego. The lockdown was obvious as the park was closed – meaning, all side roads blocked, all campgrounds closed, off road rv dry camp sites closed, restrooms closed. We managed to pull over to take wildflower photos.

Borrego Springs pretty much closed – restaurants take out only, shops closed but Pablitos was open for pick up food and margaritas.

Palm Canyon Hotel & RV park was open – we have long time reservations. The pool was open, and good thing because it was 100 degrees out.

 

Moving on we headed for Blythe for a stay at the Cove RV Park. Pool was closed but our campsite was right over a little beach with a lovely river view.

Leaving Blythe we drove to Lake Havasu – same scenario but we found a nice rv park and stayed the night. Had a view of the lake .

Poppies in Lancaster; Kill Bill Church

The poppy preserve may be closed, and we are all on a stay home mandate, but its hard to resist this superbloom not far from home. Head to the preserve and before you get there you will be in the midst of miles of gold under a blue sky.

 

 

AND SO, AFTER A FEW HOURS IN THE MIDST OF CALIFORNIA BEAUTY WE MOVE ON A FEW MILES TO THE FAMOUS KILL BILL CHURCH. The lonely Sanctuary Adventist Church was cast as the Two Pines Wedding Chapel for the wedding massacre in Quentin Tarantino’s “Kill Bill Vol. 1” (2003)

 

Headed home we visited Kimball (masks on) in his Juniper forest home in Pearblossom.

PANDEMIC GETAWAY AT A SAFE DISTANCE

The stay home mandate had only been in effect for a week, but it seemed like a month. The sun was shining, and a brilliant blue sky dotted with puffy clouds beckoned to us. I thought of what Governor Newsom said in a briefing: “If you need to go outside to get some exercise, do that, but don’t do it in a group.” Ok, he didn’t say you couldn’t drive or have an outside picnic, so I packed a lunch and off we went. We decided if we saw crowds, we’d turn around.
Headed up Highway 39 above Azusa, our first stop was to visit the bald eagles, nesting near San Gabriel Dam. There was one person in the pullout, and we chatted from the required distance. We learned he was from Orange County and visiting for the first time to get pictures of an eagle. As we stood there, the male eagle flew overhead, and the lone man snapped away. We left our card on his car windshield and the next day he emailed some photos of the eagles.

We continued up the highway turning east on the East Fork Road. Soon we found a vacant pull out and a perfect lone picnic table overlooking the San Gabriel Reservoir. We sprayed down the table with disinfectant, spread our tablecloth and enjoyed a leisurely lunch. For a while we completely forgot the nightmare we are living.

Cars flew up the Highway, but not as many as you would expect on a Saturday. Camera in hand, we pulled off where we could see what is left of Follows Camp, remembering the good times we had there. Years ago, we visited the camp for a tour and met the infamous Flo Flo Peck. It was in 1896 that Englishman Ralph Follows established the most popular hostelry in the San Gabriel Canyon. After his death in 1926, Sedley Peck and his wife Dolores “Flo Peck” restored the camp as a mountain resort, adding a restaurant and store. Previously guests arrived by the four-horse Follows Stage for a twelve-mile trip which required numerous river crossings. In 1925 the Canyon Road was paved, and automobiles could traverse it. Some say that was an improvement, but others believe it ended the historic and romantic flavor leading to the camp’s demise.
Over the years, visitors ate at the camp, found goldmining equipment in the little store, and paid for tours of the grounds. They could meet Flo Flo who talked about her younger days when she cooked for President Eisenhower.
In January 2005 record rainfalls wiped out three bridges, stranding 135 residents living at the camp. The floods washed away the wine cellar spilling dozens of bottles of wine into the river. With no one coming to the aid of those stranded, they built a dirt ramp over the main bridge and for a while these artists, retirees and others enjoyed the solitude of the camp. But alas, it was deemed uninhabitable and deserted. It is now history.
On our ride back to Duarte we continued up the canyon turning off on the Glendora Mountain Road to Horse Canyon Saddle and then down into Glendora.
. After a day of adventure, we had no close contact with anyone and felt comfortable with our adventure. As a matter of habit, we pulled over at The Donut Man but opted to not join the long line.
So, enjoy staying home, but if you cannot handle it, a little drive could lift your spirits and satisfy you that the world is still out there and functioning.

QUARTZSITE PARKER JOSHUA TREE

 

Every year in January or February, we head for the rockhound’s paradise. Since the 1960s, the Arizona town of Quartzsite, 20 miles east of the Colorado River, sees its population swell from a few hundred to millions of visitors, many of which are snowbirds. The mild weather is a draw as well as the border to border flea market.

In the market for rocks? It’s a rockhound’s dream. Native American basketry, gems, rugs, minerals, fossils and cow skulls abound. You can walk around for hours. Sadly, the naked bookman of Oasis Books passed away last year, and it looks like the bookstore will soon be gone. We send our condolences to his wife. He was quite a character.

AND THE WORLD’S BIGGEST SERVING OF CURLY FRIES

Although many opt to pull off into dirt fields and dry camp, others stay in campgrounds. We prefer to camp in Blythe, about 30 miles North, and enjoy The Cove Campground. The sites are on the river and amenities include free pancakes on Sunday morning, a pool and jacuzzi.

On Sunday we drove to the nearby Cibola Wildlife Preserve, located in the flood plain of the lower Colorado River, hoping to get a glimpse of the Sandhill Cranes. After a time at the excellent Visitor’s Center, we took the Canada Goose Drive which offers excellent opportunity for wildlife viewing. Millions of birds cover the area, and yes, we saw the cranes. Burrowing owls can be seen along the road.

Settled down for a picnic at the refuge, my phone beeped. Turning it on was a shock! Kobe Bryant died in a helicopter crash. How could this be? So much life snuffed out in a minute. We sadly followed the unfolding news.

From Blythe we headed to Parker to make our annual donation to the Native Americans through the Blue Water Casino. There is a campground there but we opted to just park out in the surrounding hills and “rough it.”

Couldn’t resist a night at Jumbo Rocks Campground in Joshua Tree, reminiscent of the days we took the kids there and tried to keep up with them as they trotted up rocks. Beautiful weather.

 

Drove through the park and headed for the Salton Sea but opted to go home because the winds were howling and dust flying.

Annual 49er Encampment Death Valley to Lone Pine

From all over they came to Death Valley to honor the 49ers. Concerts. parades, contests and historical talks and walks. But the re-assembly of the 20 mule team was a highlight for sure. This exciting display was in addition to the covered wagon brigade that arrived from Utah.

Below are the wagons in which the borax was kept and transported by the mule team.

It was about 5:30 a.m. and park visitors assembled at Zabriskie Point, cameras ready. An historic tradition in this park. And the sun rose, as expected:

 

Another must in this spacious and dynamic park is a walk on the dunes. Watch for snakes!

Campsite conversation and honey whisky:

The 49er weekend highlight – the PARADE. A dud this year – and the usual ragtag appearance of E Clampus Vitus was a no show. They were represented by one clamper:

A FAVORITE DEATH VALLEY STOP IS CHINA RANCH.

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WATER? ACROSS THE VALLEY IS THE TECOPA HOT SPRINGS AREA AND A LOVELY LAKE.

ANOTHER MUST-VISIT IS THE REMNANTS OF THE MINING TOWN OF RHYOLITE. THE DEPOT STILL STANDS BUT IS NO LONGER OPEN.

OUT OF CHARACTER IS A BIZARRE MUSEUM FEATURING A MAZE  AND A BICYCLIST

AND TO THE NORTH, THE SCENERY CHANGES. LUNCH AT PANAMINT SPRINGS THEN ENJOYED THE FALL COLORS OF THE LONE PINE AREA!

A fishing trip to the portals was a laugh. The pond was empty. The waterfall frozen. The café closed. But the fall colors brilliant.

THE END

PATAGONIA HIKE TO RAISE FUNDS FOR CANCER RESEARCH

The team enjoyed a training hike in July 2019 at Mt. Hood, Oregon where they had an opportunity to meet, connect and bond before the upcoming Patagonia hike.

 

Lupe Duarte, Multiple Myeloma Project Manager for the City of Hope, will soon be hiking over glaciers and deep valleys in Patagonia. Her trek will touch the lives of many, raise funds for cancer research and honor those who have survived, live with or died from this type of cancer. The 13-member team will consist of individuals who have a direct connection to multiple myeloma: patients, caregivers, family members of patients, and those who work directly with myeloma patients. The trip is scheduled for November 9-18.
At age 46, Lupe has been the COH Multiple Myeloma Project Manager since 2009. “I am hiking to honor all of our multiple myeloma patients at City of Hope and to honor the memory of all cancer fighters, including my own family member and friends who have beat cancer. Lastly, I’m hiking to honor our beloved Dr. Arti Hurria, as she was not only a close collaborator of our Program but also an amazing mentor to many of us and most importantly, a friend with such spirit and light!”
Preparing for the trek, Lupe awakes at 3:30 a.m. every weekday to work out at a gym for cardio training and endurance. Patagonia will be her second MMRF hike, as she participated in the Grand Canyon Trek in May of 2017. The Patagonia team recently took a practice trek to Mt. Hood in Oregon where they hiked on ice and snow. The upcoming South America trek will be a first for her in many ways. “I have never been out of the Country,” she admits. “and just received my first passport. I’m looking forward to seeing a condor in Patagonia, a bird I have never seen.”
The Moving Mountains for Multiple Myeloma (“MM4MM”) program sponsors are the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (“MMRF”), CURE Media Group and Celgene. They offer this opportunity to allow the team a life-changing experience as the members overcome challenges beyond their perceived limit and honors loved ones and friends living with multiple myeloma. Lupe is convinced that the MM4MM team is living proof that the work being done by the MMRF and its research partners helps myeloma patients live longer and more active lives.
Myeloma is a relatively rare cancer, accounting for around 10 percent of blood cancer cases. It often affects the aged and most cases are diagnosed in people age 65 and older. Although myeloma grows within bone, it is not considered bone cancer. Lupe has more than 23 years of experience in clinical research, which allows her to watch many of the advances and see the importance of research.
Research comes at a high monetary price. Therefore, the Patagonia trek and those like it are also geared to raising funds. Team members pledge to raise a minimum of $10,000 per person and are responsible for a majority of the costs involved in the trip. Friends, family, patients, social media friends and the public sponsor team members. The link to her fundraising page is: https://endurance.themmrf.org/2019Patagonia/LupeFaithMovesMountains
Lupe will follow up when she returns from Patagonia. In the meantime, she says: “Please support my participation in the Patagonia Trek benefiting the MMRF. I have made a commitment to raise at least $10,000 and I will need your help to get there. More importantly, patients need these funds to extend their lives while we closer and closer to a cure.”

BIG BOY THRILLS TRAIN BUFFS ON CENTENNIAL YEAR

VICTORVILLE, Calif. — Union Pacific Railroad has announced the return of Big Boy steam locomotive #4014 to Southern California in October, making its final public appearance for 2019.
The locomotive will pull a special Union Pacific passenger train consisting of immaculately maintained 1950’s era Heritage Fleet passenger cars commemorating the 150th anniversary of the completion of the first transcontinental railroad at Promontory, Utah, on May 10, 1869, according to The Railway and Locomotive Historical Society, Southern California Chapter.
Called “The Great Race Across the Southwest”, the Big Boy train will depart its home base in Cheyenne, Wyoming on September 27 and arrive in Victorville on October 8th, 2019, before going to the greater Los Angeles area on October 9.

Twenty-five Big Boys were built exclusively for Union Pacific Railroad, the first of which was delivered in 1941. The locomotives were 132 feet long and weighed 1.2 million pounds. Because of their great length, the frames of the Big Boys were “hinged,” or articulated, to allow them to negotiate curves.

TRAIN BUFFS DID NOT DISAPPOINT. THE PLACE WAS JAMMED WITH SPECTATORS HOLDING CAMERAS. THE DEPOT WAS ACROSS THE STREET FROM THE ROUTE 66 MUSEUM. ONE LAST SHOT AND WE RACED THROUGH THE CAJON PASS TO THE RT. 66 EXIT TO GET IN PLACE FOR ANOTHER SHOT AS IT PASSED.

After a few days at the Goffs Rendezvous, a visit to the Avi Casino and an overnight stop at The Cove in Blythe, we headed for the Salton Sea by way of Mecca. There we got another chance to see Big Boy as he traveled from Indio to Niland. Set up on the highway near the old Cowboy Man’s spot, we awaited Big Boy. He chugged on by at breakneck speed but Alan managed a great shot.

THE WIGWAM MOTEL IN RIALTO – GETTING OUR KICKS!

A GROUP OF 13 DUARTEANS CHECKED INTO THE ICONIC WIGWAM MOTEL IN RIALTO FOR A SATURDAY NIGHT PARTY. FIRST A DIP IN THE POOL ON A WARM AFTERNOON AFTER CHECKING INTO OUR TEEPEES. THE ROOMS ARE COMFORTABLE WITH ALL THE AMENITIES.

Dinner delivered by Juan Pollo – the chicken chain owned by Albert Okura – owner of the Route 66 town of Amboy.

A few years ago we stayed and partied at the Wigwam. Our dear friend brought his hotrod. Sadly he passed away recently and we held a small memborial with a cake. His wife BJ was with us.

 

Jim & Kathy Kirchner at their Teepee

BJ tries one of the morning donuts. A leisurely morning then we pack up and head for the ORIGINAL MCDONALDS MUSEUM.

This is the site of the first McDonald’s that was open in 1940, but the property has since been purchased by the owner of local chicken restaurant Juan Pollo and converted into a museum. It is always debated as to whether this location is the first, since the Des Plaines McDonalds in Illinois also claims that, but the Illinois one was opened 15 years after this original one.

PARKER – RIVER FUN, BURNING BRIDGE & PIRATE’S DEN

WHEN YOU GO TO PARKER BE SURE YOU HAVE A FRIEND LIKE HANS WITH A BEAUTIFUL BOAT!

Julie gets a lesson on how to be a captain.

RETURNING TO THE CALIFORNIA SIDE AFTER A NIGHT AT THE CASINO, WE WERE SHOCKED TO SEE THE RAILROAD BRIDGE ON FIRE. IN THE MORNING WHEN WE HEADED HOME, FLAMES WERE STILL ALIVE.

DINNER AT THE PIRATE’S DEN ON THE RIVER

A STOP IN QUARTZSITE BROUGHT THE BAD NEWS. PAUL WINER, AKA THE NAKED BOOK MAN HAD PASSED AWAY IN MAY. SO SAD TO HEAR THIS. HE WAS A CHARACTER FOR SURE. A MUSICIAN, BOOK SELLER, COMMUNITY ACTIVIST AND NUDIST.

AND CLOSER TO HOME WE FOUND OUR LONG-LOST COWBOY. FOR YEARS WE VISITED HIM AT HIS STRIP MALL IN MECCA AND THEN – POOF – ONE DAY HE WAS MISSING. WE PUT OUT A PLEA FOR THE PUBLIC TO BE ON THE ALERT BUT WERE UNABLE TO FIND HIM. THEN, DRIVING HOME FROM PARKER, THERE HE WAS IN FRONT OF A LITTLE TOURIST SHOP IN JOSHUA TREE WHERE HE IS WELL LOVED AND TAKEN CARE OF. THEY RE-NAMED HIM “JOSH.”