Monday, November 25, 2013

The DeVa’s are Heading into The Valley…


Here’s a quote we recently read about our 2013 / 2014 winter home:

“Lots of people say, 'I can do this,' but if a person can't just be happy sitting with themselves for an evening, then they can't do it here.”


                              All photos are ‘borrowed’… we haven’t seen it yet!  


Here’s a few facts:

The hottest, driest and lowest point in North America.

The largest national park in the lower 48 states.

Ninety five percent of the park is a designated wilderness area.

The park has been declared an International Biosphere Reserve.

It is home to the greatest elevation gradient in the contiguous United States.

Home to over 1,000 species of plants; 50 of which are found nowhere else.

One of the premier night-sky destinations in the country.

* Sixty miles one way to the nearest town / grocery store.

* Additional sixty miles one way (away from said town & store) to our volunteer site and our potential campsite location for the second half of our experience.


                            DEATH VALLEY NATIONAL PARK, HERE WE COME!


Note to readers:  We’re not really sure if our cell phone will work - we’ve heard anything from probably not to maybe a little bit.  We plan to make the 120 mile round trip drive to the store next to never - maybe twice in two or three months. 

Translation:  There is a good chance a significant lag will occur in blog postings, phone and email response.  If you want, go ahead and contact us.  We’ll receive it and get back to you… eventually (or sooner if we discover other opportunities).


And… We’re Off!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Joshua Trees not in Joshua Tree


Did you know, there are actually fewer Joshua Trees in Joshua Tree National Park than there are in the Mojave National Preserve?


                                                   We didn’t!

                                             But there are!

Besides having a bunch of other cool stuff like singing sand dunes, dry lake beds, lava flows, volcanic cinder cones and caverns (closed to the public), Mojave National Preserve’s is home to one of the largest and densest Joshua tree forests in the world.



If you look closely, you can see ‘dots’ all the way to the mountains.  Those are Joshua Trees!  The numbers were staggering in comparison to anything we’ve seen before.


The trees were also a bit different looking than others we have seen.  Skinnier, maybe.  More ‘tree’ like.  Not sure how to describe it but one person told us they were a different variety called ‘broccoli’ (as of yet unconfirmed).


We didn’t spend time exploring the other aspects of the park this time around so trees are all we’ve got for you.  Well, we do also have this cool photo of a Black Throated Sparrow!


                                      And, then we’re back to trees…


             Oh!  We got stuck in the desert the other day.  SIX TIMES!

Buried up to the axles which this photo does not clearly show since we had already dug her out and surrounded her with ‘traction’ of found variety.  Just picture the bottom half of our tire / rim covered in sand.  We worked for five hours digging, depositing traction and then making it anywhere from one foot to six feet before she dug herself in again.  Just before dark some guys showed up to ride their ATV’s, they used their truck to give us the final pull we needed and off we rode into the sunset.  The lesson here was… just because you drove over it once, doesn’t mean you can drive over it again!

                                          Cue the tree photo.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Slab City - Just Passing Through


There’s something about this place for us.  It’s hard to put our finger on though because it is a combination of so many things.  Most of what draws us here is what repels others.


We’re different in that way; finding it easy to look over the wall that stops others in order to see the unique aspects or the potential.


So, when our friend dropped a line to ask if we were going to visit this year it didn’t take us long to agree to a slight diversion in our original travel plans.


It has been two years since our last time at The Slabs and for all that has remained the same a lot more feels different.


            That’s o.k. though.  We can appreciate both sides of the coin.


There’s a certain beauty in it all.  Like a quote we recently read… “(We) believe in the possibility of everything.”


  There is a certain freedom in this place.  A freedom that fosters imagination.


While others would visit this place and see despair, we always see hope and magic.


We see a place that says, “You do not need to be confined to a set of rules that others have created to make themselves comfortable with your actions.  And, if you need help with that, my friend, I’ll do what I can.”


       Creativity, independence and self reliance ooze here.


At its most basic level, The Slabs it no different than many other places we’ve been.  And yet there is a silent intricacy of its elements that could never be duplicated.


                                        Make of it what you will.


For a select few, this is life; whether by choice or otherwise.  For us and many others, it is an opportunity to look past ourselves and to see the greater picture.


At the very least, it’s a great place to kick back, relax, catch up with old friends, make new ones and renew your spirit.


We are all visitors to this time, this place.  We are just passing through.  Our purpose here it so observe, to learn, to grow, to love… and then we return home.

                                - Australian Aboriginal Proverb


Thursday, November 14, 2013

This, That and California


We are proud to announce that after two years of traveling cross country and back again and again, it finally happened!

                              We passed someone else on the highway!

Not so much in the touring department the last week or so.  We visited with friends in Arizona, drove through Saguaro National Park, experienced way too many time changes, did the Los Algodones thing (for the non-RV readers that’s teeth, eyes and medicines in Mexico at a significant discount) and then settled in to one of our favorite spots in California to decompress for a couple of days.


Things have changed a bit since we were here two years ago.  The mining has moved more to the front of the mountains (read: obvious and visible on the landscape) and there is a lot of activity related to that.  Still, we once again found the area very peaceful and were able to grab a spot that did not permit us to hear the frequent blasting that is going on.


By nature we subscribe to the ‘You can’t go back’ theory in that if you return someplace expecting things to be the same you will most likely be disappointed.  We do believe however that you can return with fresh eyes and see old things in a new light.  So, that is what we did and this is what we saw.

Our camera had trouble focusing on this guy.  He was so small and blended in so well that it thought the grains of sand were easier to find.  He is the smallest praying mantis that we have ever seen and was (maybe) as long as the first digit of our pinky.

         There was a lot of very pretty weather shaped wood laying around.

At first glance you would think we’d found a large bone.  But this is a piece of wood encased in a mud shell.  If you were to open it up you would reveal thousands of termites who are enjoying a wonderfully vacuum sealed meal.

                                     Not your everyday desert find.

                                             Ocotillo Rainbow.


                                      What-chu lookin’ at, Willis?!




                                            And then there was…


             Well, better get this wrapped up because tomorrow… WE RIDE!


                                              Adios, amigos!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Fall In The Desert.


Since we were so close after touring Carlsbad Caverns and we had our VOLUNTEER PARK PASS to use, we couldn’t resist the rich riparian oasis in the midst of the Chihuahuan Desert that is McKittrick Canyon.


It has been called the "most beautiful spot in Texas" and we do not disagree.  The Chihuahuan Desert receives more rainfall than others and greenery thrives here.  We chose to take a day to hike the 5 mile round trip McKittrick Canyon trail to the Pratt Cabin in order to take in one of the most unique aspects of this environment.

                                            The Fall Color Change!

It is not often you get to see such a thing while hiking through the desert and we were not disappointed by the display.

DSCN3503DSCN3502  DSCN3504 

It was amazing.  We were in the desert but it felt like we were hiking back east.


Although we planned the hike to view the fall colors, the desert itself did not disappoint and there was no shortage of critters and desert ‘foliage’.

                                  The Texas Madrone. 

The Texas Madrone is a rainforest relict tree.  It grows to about 30 feet and has a gnarled trunk with reddish bark that peels with age.

Although our goal was to see fall colors in this area, it reportedly produces quite a brilliant display of spring wildflower blooms, as well.

      We just missed the display from the New Mexico Agave.

                                    How tall is it?


                            We know why they call this guy ‘Steller’!

          Not only does he rock the Mohawk but boy can he can belt a tune.

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                                       She’s got Betty Davis eyes…


Not a bad little homestead three miles into the Canyon.  Wallace Pratt was yet another visionary who recognized the importance of preserving such areas.  When he was unable to personally utilize his vacation cabin anymore he donated it and his 5,632 acres, which included McKittrick Canyon, to the National Park Service thus forming the core of the Guadalupe Mountains National Park.

               Thank You, Wallace!

What an beautiful day of hiking in the desert.  When we were through we took a drive along the Guadalupe Mountains and were surprised to be greeted by yet another rare and unexpected vision on the other side.

                                                      A Lake!

Well, we have had a wonderful time meandering about this last month.  Alas, it is time for us to make tracks (translated, travel more than 30 miles at a time).  We don’t want to be late for our very important date of Dec 1.  More on that later.


                        Take the time to put a little color into your life.