Alabama Hills – Lone Pine, CA

On my way to Alabama… Alabama Hills that is….

Today I drove 132 miles to Lone Pine, CA where I plan to stay for a couple of days in the Alabama Hills.  I stopped at the Inter-Agency Visitors Center going into town to pick up a freebie map of the Alabama Hills and also signed up for a fire permit.  The permit doesn’t cost anything but if you are having any kind of fire outside of your rig (such as my gas barbeque) you are required to have it.

Found a nice spot

Then I drove down the Whitney Portal Road to the Movie Road.  It then turns into a gravel road with many small roads leading to places to camp.  The roads are very narrow so I parked my rig in a good spot and hiked down several of the roads so I could find a good spot.  I did find a great little place back among the rocks.

Camped where they filmed Gunga Din

While relaxing in my new found campsite I overheard 3 people on horses mention that this spot was used in the original Gunga Din movie set.  I saw several people on horseback riding all through this area.  Here are a couple more pics taken around my campsite.

One of the reasons I chose this spot was because it had a beautiful view of the mountains.  I am not sure but I think one of the mountains is My Whitney, which is the highest mountain in the 48 states.  There was still snow on them as well.  What a beautiful sight.

Lost of odd shapes

The Alabama Hills are so unique.  They are oddly shaped rocks everywhere, some very small and others are huge.  This is public land managed by the BLM Bishop Field Office.  There is dispersed camping just about anywhere, although they tell you to use an existing camp and fire-ring.  According to the map there are over 50 movie productions filmed here annually.  Many of the old westerns were filmed here as well.  There is a Museum of Film History located in Lone Pine where you can pick up the exact location of 10 classic movies.  The movie industry adds quite a bit to the economy here in Lone Pine.  I took a hike all through this area the next day and found some really neat areas.

I even found some desert flowers in bloom.

I also found this cave that contained a fire pit.  It looked like it had been used a lot for a fire as the roof of it was all black.

What a funny looking guy!

There was also a rock formation that looked like someones head only with a really crooked nose.  HA!

This is a really beautiful and there were many spots where you could camp and really get away from it all.

Don’t forget the Film History Museum

I stayed here two nights.  I would have liked to stay longer but I have my work commitment in Oregon.  I would definitely recommend this area.  After leaving I went to the Lone Pine Film History Museum in Lone Pine.  It only cost $5 to get in and it was well worth it.  They had posters of many of the movies that were filmed in this area.  This was a display they had where they made the movie Gunga Din.

It was a great weekend even though I couldn’t get cell phone or internet service.  Maybe that was why it was so good!

Trona Pinnacles

From mighty gusts to a gentle breeze

I woke up today to a gentle breeze so did some laundry, bought some groceries and gas and headed out to the Trona Pinnacles.  They are located about 20 miles east of Ridgecrest, CA off Hwy 178.  I turned down RM143, which is a washboard gravel road for about 5 1/2 miles before you get to the pinnacles.

Slow and bumpy…

Top speed on this road was 10mph with much of it traveling at only 5mph.  VERY BUMPY!!  Here are a couple of pics of the road with the pinnacles in the background.

A perfect campsite among the pinnacles…

I got out and decided to hike around to try a find the perfect campsite.  As I was hiking down a road through the pinnacles I happened to glance up and saw a truck parked among some of the pinnacles.  Later I saw that same truck pull out and leave so I hiked up to see if the rig would make it.  NO PROBLEMO!!!  A little steep in a spot  but nothing the ole LD couldn’t make.  So up we went.  This is where I am camped for the night.

A little history…..

The Trona Pinnacles are made up of tufas, which are strange crumbling porous rock spires.  They were formed underwater 10,000 – 100,000 years ago.  You might have seen them in Planet of the Apes, Star Trek V, or Lost in Space or over 30 other movies where they formed the backdrop.

It is very peaceful out here.  You can hardly hear a sound.  Plus you can see for many miles across the desert.  This is the view of the desert floor taken from my dinette.  NO TOO SHABBY!!!

I originally got the idea to check out the Tron Pinnacles from Frugal RV Travel.  Al  (the Bayfield Bunch) suggested looking them up on his blog.  They have several great ebooks for sale and I bought one titled California Boondocking the desert and Eastern Sierra.  They mentioned the Trona Pinnacles and that is all I need to head this way.  I am really glad I did.

Here are a few more pics of the tufas.

I was hoping that it would be a full moon tonight as many say that is the best time to view the pinnacles, but it is only a quarter moon.  But I can still pretend I am still in outer space like in the movies.

I Love Anza Borrego !!

One of my favorite places…

Anza Borrego State Park has to be one of my most favorite places.  It is located in the desert east of Oceanside.  I guess the main reason I like it is the peace and calm of the desert.  This is my 2nd year here and it gives me time to sort out my rig and my thoughts to prepare for the year.  You can park just about anywhere you like, but I found out yesterday that it pays to park on some higher ground.  I found a nice spot, but had no Internet or cell phone connections.  So I moved to a little higher ground and the connections are much better.  It isn’t the fastest Internet where I am now but who is in a big hurry anyway.  However my closest neighbor is at least a half mile away.

This is my campsite now.  Doesn’t it look familiar?  I am not sure how close I was to the spot where I took my header photo above, but it is very close to it.  The only thing that is missing is the rainbow and that might just come a bit later.  Stay tuned.

Love the mountains

Here are a few pics I got while enjoying my adult beverage.  I even got this pic of myself!

I am located near Clark Dry Lake just about 7 miles from Borrego Springs.

This is the Santa Rosa mountain range.

The end of the day.

Millions of stars in the sky

I awoke at 3:30am and went outside to see the night sky.  The stars were just fantastic.  I tried to get a good picture of the moon but didn’t come out too good.  The wind was blowing very hard and it was hard to keep my camera steady.

Batten down the hatches….

The weather prediction for the weekend is not good.  It is supposed to rain Saturday thru Monday.  I won’t be going anywhere until at least Tuesday.  I am well stocked up with everything and tanks are empty.  I don’t want to be driving around the desert while it is raining.

Tamarisk LTVA

Tamarisk LTVA

After crossing the border at Tecate, I traveled down I8 to Tamarisk LTVA (Long Term Visitor Area).  It is in the same system of LTVA’s as the La Posa West LTVA in Quartzsite.  Therefore my annual pass covered the cost of staying there.  As it turned out the pass cost me $180 and I was able to save $20.  I could have probably saved even more but decided to move on and head to Southern California to visit with my family.

This is the area I moved to.

I was the 28th rig all season…

Once I got settled in Reynolds came over to invite me to their campfire they were having that night.  I met everyone who was camped at the park.  Everyone was so friendly.  I was only the 28th rig to come into the park since they opened it back in September.  At the present time I was one of six rigs in the park.  Many of the others had been there for several months.

Peter and Bea we have to stop meeting like this..

I had to get water and propane as well as dump my tanks.  They suggested Holtville where I could take care of everything at once including stocking up on some groceries and fill my tank with gas.  I headed there on Sunday and had just finished dumping my tanks and was headed to get some gas when I saw a rig pull into the dump station and saw my friends Peter and Bea from  http://american-traveler.blogspot.com/ jump out.  How ironic to see them again!  I had last seen them while I was filling up with water at Quartzsite.  We chatted for a while and then they headed off to Yuma and I to Tamarisk LTVA.

Surrounded by the Border Patrol

It was a ritual to go on a hike every morning.  I took part in several of the hikes while I was there.  They each lasted about 4 miles and it was great exercise.  One day we decided to hike over to I-8 and then back again.  It was about 2 miles each way.  We got over to I-8 and walked along it inside the fence of course.  Then as we hiked back we were met by 4 Border Patrol vehicles who almost surrounded us.  Evidently someone saw us while driving down I-8 and suspected that we were illegal aliens.  The Border Patrol were on us like flies on poop!  Of course they realized that we hadn’t crossed the border illegally but it was pretty funny!

Evidence of illegal crossings

Since we were next to the waterway most of our hikes were along it.  You could see evidence all along the waterway where the illegals had made their way across it.  Things like rafts, paddles, clothing, etc.

Off to Algodones, MX

Charlie invited me to go to Algodones, MX with them.  He and Reynolds had to have their hearing aids adjusted and also needed some medication from the pharmacy.  I decide what the heck and said I would ride along.  There was Charlie, Reynolds, Jim and myself.  We walked across the border.  It was much different the what I was used to seeing in Palomas, MX where I have my dental work done.  It seemed much busier.  Lots of stores and street vendors.  All trying to get you to look (and buy) their junk!  Too many people wanting a handout.

Walked around a bit and only took one pic.

Then we had to cross back into the USA.  What a hassle!  This is the long line that we stood in while everyone is trying to peddle their stuff.  They kept saying “Only $5, almost free”.  Sure think poncho!

But sir this does not look like you…

When I got to the gal checking the passports she said “This doesn’t look like you!  She made me take off my sunglasses.  Then I had to explain that the picture was taken 10 years ago and my body has changed slightly.  Like hair color, mustache, etc.  My passport expires later this year so it will be nice to get a new one with a new picture that actually looks like me.  She is the second agent that has told me that.  Don’t worry about it!  Just let me go thru!

Great woodcarvings

Several of the guys at the park did wood carving as a hobby.  Reynolds, Jim and Ken were all really good at it.  Reynolds showed me some of his collection and it was quite impressive.  I sure wish I was handy like that!

I will return…

I plan to return there next year.  Reynolds and Karen were the hosts and they have been coming their for 7 years.  Tamarisk LTVA does not have all of the facilities, but they make up for it with the wonderful people.

Slab City

Before leaving Anza-Borrego I got these last two pictures.  I had some rain on several days while there and the temperature was down in the 30’s at night.  This was taken after the rain showing snow on the mountaintops.

Be sure to click and then click again to enlarge all photos.

Prior to leaving I got this pic of my campsite with the snow in the background.

My next stop was Slab City, but first I stopped in Brawley to load up on supplies.  Slab City is an old abandoned WWII Marine Base that has been taken over by squatters and RV’ers.  You can read more about Slab City here.  It is located outside of the small town of Niland, CA on the eastern side of the Salton Sea.

When you first arrive you are greeted:

Then you get to Salvation Mountain.

Leonard Knight is the creator of Salvation Mountain.  It is an ongoing project that has been in the works for over 25 years and more then 100,000 gallons of paint.

I followed the “Yellow Brick Road” to the top of Salvation Mountain.  This my view from there.

I also go a view of “The Slabs” from the same spot.

This is Leonard’s truck that he lives in.

Now I’m entering Slab City.

I will tell you that when you first enter Slab City you are not impressed.  One of my friends who had only spent one night their described it as a “giant hobo camp”.  There are trailers, RVs, trucks and cars with tires so flat it appears they have not been driven for years.  Plus the trash is disgusting and everywhere.

HOWEVER, if you continue driving as I did (I am too curious for my own good sometimes), you will find a great camping area further out.  It is made up mostly of snowbirds that come here as early as Oct/Nov and then leave around Apr/May.  It is a nice clean area with lots of really nice friendly folks.

I followed the signs to the LOW’s group (Loners on Wheels of which I am a member).  I was told they have been located out here for over 25 years.  They have 4 permanent trailers and a large group area for dining and gatherings.  They meet everyday at 3:30 for Happy Hour.  Sometimes they show movies and they play cards in the evening.  One of the trailers houses a 2000 book library another trailer is used as a kitchen, one for the card games and one trailer for the movies.  In order to show the movies they have lots of solar panels and batteries set up.

One day I decided to walk around and see just what made up Slab City.  This is the stage that was used in a scene of the movie “Into the Wild”.  Nothing seemed to be happening the whole time I stayed there.

Not far from where I was camped there had been a alien crash as you can see.  Some pretty weird stuff.

This shows some of the area of Slab City when you first drive in.  This isn’t really too bad compared to some of the areas I saw.  I have seen some areas where the trailers and trucks had been completely gutted and only the frame showing.

Slab City even has some real classic cars that I doubt you could find anywhere else.  They are not exactly what my father would have considered classic but they are unusual just the same.  Check them out.

But they don’t stop at just classic cars.  No way!  Try a house boat on for size.  He had a sign on it for $49k.  At least he wouldn’t have any worries about a flash flood out here.

On the other hand here is a pic of my campsite for a week and my neighbor’s Lynn and Gloria.  As you can see there is no trash around.  Lynn and Gloria in the Airstream are an older couple in their 80’s but have been coming to the same area in  the Slabs for the last 19 years.  They were really nice people and I really enjoyed talking with them.

Another pic of my campsite.

This is where the LOW’s group met every day for “Happy Hour” and dinners on occasion.

I really enjoyed my stay at “The Slabs”.  I found a very nice site and met a lot of really nice people.  Plus it did not cost me anything to stay there.

Anza-Borrego Boondocking

I spent the night at the Jojoba Hills Escapee park and at 8am Mike and Lisa Sylvester stopped by to check out my Seal Level Gauge.  It works great except those times where I am plugged in to the campground electricity.  They worked on it for 2 hours and concluded after speaking with Lazy Daze that the problem was caused by the method Lazy Daze used in the wiring bundles.  Both the AC and DC wiring were bundled together thus causing interference  with the Sea Level gauge when it was plugged in to the campground.  They could fix that problem but it would require direct wiring from the gauge to each tank.  This would be an expensive fix.  They showed me how I could get around the problem and still utilize the gauge.

Mike and Lisa hand completely gone through my rig trying to locate the problem.  They spent over 2 hours working on it and my total bill came to $0.00.  What a deal !!!  They didn’t charge me anything since they had originally installed it at the 2010 Balloon Fiesta.  It was warranty work.  If anyone is looking for a team that does quality work and backs up everything they do then I would suggest giving them a call at (502) 228-1381.  You can also look up their website at http://thervguynm.com On top of that they are just really nice people.

I left Jojoba Hills about noon and headed off to the Anza-Borrego desert where I planned to stay at least a week in the dispersed camping area.  Since I got my solar panels I love to boondock.  It usually costs you nothing to stay and you have everything on board to enable you to live off the land. I found a spot east of Borrego Springs off highway 22.  There were lots of folks out here but very spread out.

The next day I checked out the Anza-Borrego Visitor Center.  It was underground and built into the side of a hill.  Good idea to keep it cool in the summer as it can get up to 115 degrees or hotter.  This is a view from the bridge that goes over the visitor center.  They have a nice area you can walk through that identifies all the different plants and trees.  While there I also went on a tour with a volunteer that explained all the trees in the desert.

Be sure to click and then click again to enlarge all photos.

This is a photo of the mountains from my campsite.  As you can see my nearest neighbor was quite a distance away.

The following morning I decide to hike over to a spot where it looked to be a canyon.  From where I was camped it didn’t look that far.  But was I ever in for a surprise.  It is hard to judge distance in the desert.  What looks very close to the eye can be very far.  This is the road I went down before I came upon a dry lake bed.

This is the dry lake bed.  It was actually very hard and easy to walk on.  But the lake bed was at least a mile across.

Finally I reached my destination.  By that time I estimated I had hiked about 5 miles based on the length of time it took me to get there.  I was hoping I could find some shade.  It wasn’t really too hot (low 80’s) but walking in the sun the entire distance seemed hotter then it was.

I found this little shaded spot from the sun and took a break there.  It was very cool and refreshing.

After plenty of rest I started back the same way I came from.  I found these flowers at the side of the dirt road.

I was very happy to return to my little home on wheels.  I felt very good that I had hiked 10 miles but was ready to kick back for the rest of the day.  I took a pic of the sunset.  The California sunsets are nothing compared to the Arizona and New Mexico sunsets but beautiful in it’s own regard.

I am glad I took a hike that day.  For the next 4 days it has been very windy and not good hiking weather.  There were huge gusts both at night and during the day.  It was supposed to rain yesterday but it sailed right over us.  Even though it didn’t rain Mother Nature did give me a beautiful rainbow.  The bottom of the mountain to the left of the rainbow was where I had hiked to.

I used the following pic to create my new header which you probably noticed at the top of the page.  I finally found the “Pot of Gold” at the end of the rainbow.  It is my wonderful little Lazy Daze house on wheels.  How cool!!!!

This shows the clouds I had most of the day yesterday.  It did threaten to rain but passed over.

I will probably be here a few more days and then move on.  I love this area and it’s complete freedom.