Arkansas River Headwaters Recreation Area: Not Actually in Arkansas

We arrived at Hecla Junction Campground at around 5pm, greeted by a sign announcing “Hecla Junction Campground Closed” in construction-orange lights. Blinking the disbelief from my eyes I spluttered something along the lines of “But I had reservations…”

I wish I had said something a little less whiney at the time. Next time I’ll say something pithier.

County Road 194 is a dirt road that the internet advised me to take caution on as it involves 12% grades. I have learned to respect steep grades, and the steepest labeled grade I’ve driven with the trailer was 10%. That road was paved, with guard rails and what not. And although I wouldn’t hesitate to take that road again, I did have a tiny touch of concern about going steeper. Not to mention the fact that I was of the impression that the road was 12 miles of unpaved steep narrow dirt road leading to the campground. Only 5 miles previously we had seen a fairly cute bed and breakfast with a name invoking something cute about goats.

Our other choices? Well the GPS had decided that it didn’t want to navigate in Colorado. Something about not having the maps blah blah blah, and not having service to download them. Interestingly I could trace the line perfectly well using the road map in the GPS. So I knew the way to this campground. But I knew not a lick about the next one. Sure, I could have gotten it off the internet, had there been any. But there wasn’t. And unlike this campground that I had reservations to, I did not to the next so I didn’t have the convenient confirmation email telling me how to get there.

So a goat themed B&B or 12 miles down a dirt road to an uncertain fate? The dirt road it was. Continue reading

Making amazing time – but not by choice

So, for those of you paying attention to dates and such, you may notice that:

a) I’m posting less often

and

b) The posts mostly pertain to things that happened a couple of weeks ago.

Well, there are a couple reasons for that:

1) We didn’t do a lot of hiking in California (not dog friendly)

2) We didn’t stay still a lot, so lots of miles covered but not as much time to make an impression somewhere

3) Lots of miles covered means a lot of time setting up and breaking down camp, therefore not lots of time to write.

So, here’s the quick recap:

Continue reading

King Range National Conservation Area: Or California’s best kept secret

I don’t know how to say this politely.  So, I’ll say it as least impolitely as I can:

I do not care for California.  It is the least dog friendly state I’ve been to on this trip, or any trip.  It is the state with the most parks that include rules to the effect of “no having fun.”

But it has at least 4 things I do like:

1) The Mojave Desert National Preserve

2) Really big trees

3) Highway 1, aka Pacific Coast Highway, aka driving nirvana

4) King Range National Conservation Area.

And it is the last two points that this post is dedicated to.

Continue reading

Mojave Desert National Preserve

Last week we were staying in the Mojave Desert National Preserve, which as you probably can determine from the name is located within the Mojave Desert.  What this doesn’t really tell you is sheer scale of the Mojave Desert.  It is large.  And I’m not talking Hoover dam large (which I found depressingly small…perhaps it was their unfriendly stance towards four-legged friends that I found small), or Lake Mead large, or Rhode Island Large.  I’m talking bigger than the state of Pennsylvania.

"Mojave Desert map" by Cephas - North America second level political division 2.svgTerrestrial ecoregions of North America : a conservation assessment. Taylor H Ricketts; et al. Washington, D.C. : Island Press, ©1999. xxiv, 485 p. : ill. (some col.), maps (some col.) ; 28 cm. (ISBN 9781559637220). Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons
The desert is the bit shaded in green. Because…you know, deserts are green.

Continue reading

From one wide open space to another

Yesterday we departed Big Bend of the Colorado State Park (just outside of Laughlin, NV) for Valley of Fire State Park (about an hour north of Las Vegas).  Big Bend of the Colorado was nice, although the park was set up more for big RV’s than our little rig.  We probably could have fit 5 more cars+trailers into the space we had.

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After stopping in Henderson for some lunch at Buddha Belly Deli we took the scenic toll road through Lake Mead National Recreation Area rather than head up I-15 to get to Valley of Fire.

Some advice for any in the area faced with a similar choice:  pay the $10 toll.  This was perhaps the most beautiful 45 miles of sinuous road I have ever driven. Continue reading

What this trip is, and how

In a lot of ways this trip is less a pursuit of some knowable goal that I am pursuing, and more a pursuit of the unknown.

Sure, along the way we are planning stops at iconic pieces of Americana: The Grand Canyon, Las Vegas and the Sequoias among others.  But the routes between these points are legion, and our selection criteria are flexible.

Before delving into the routes that were chosen and why, it is perhaps important to look at the selection criteria.

Internet Access:

This is not a vain whim of a tragically internet-bound Gen Y’er, but a practical concern for a couple of reasons.  First, Wren is nearly finished with her masters degree from Texas A&M.  In order to keep up with lectures and submit homework internet is a must.  Thankfully our world far exceeds Star-Trek in the pervasive nature of data access.  No need to radio up to the ship to have Geordi ask the Computer to compute something for you – just ask the computer that everyone carries in their pocket to consult the interweb it has nearly ubiquitous access to. Continue reading