A Traveler and his Cat exploring America.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


I’ve dispensed with all the bedding in the View. It is just too much of a hassle putting sheets and blankets on the bed, so I am reverting back to the sleeping bag. The evening was so pleasant I thought I would do fine with just the comforter on me. Not! In the middle of the night I spread the Indian blanket on top and had to slip on my knit cap. In spite being cool, I slept real good and had a hard time waking up in the morning. I will use the sleeping bag from now on.
I checked outside and saw that the carpet had blown over. As I unrolled it a large mouse or Kangaroo Rat scurried away under the View. I didn’t see him on the other side on the Playa so figured he was up in the chassis. Sinbad eventually located him between the dual tires. I poked the varmit out with the broom handle and he ran up into the engine compartment. Poor Sinbad, he just isn’t that good at catching mice. Being an inside cat all his life has left him severely handicapped in the mouse catching department. After awhile we gave up and I went in to go eat my breakfast, wondering if when I started the motor rat guts would be splattered all over inside.
I unloaded the Honda 90 and motored up towards Trego Hot Springs. Since I bought myself a car I have no need for the Honda 90 anymore so I plan to sell it after this trip. But now while riding it on the Playa I begin to second-guess this idea. It is handy out here, it's fun, but is it worth it to keep just for one or two uses a year? I think not, yet not so sure.
It seemed like a long ride but was only 13 plus miles. I missed the regular route in and came in too far below so had to work my way up through the lumpy bumpy terrain of sagebrush to the springs. I have a lot of memories of Trego, having spent many nights here or the past 20 years and found myself a bit melancholy. Was it the memories? Was it that things had changed? The Jan Barton memorial was gone. So were the steps down into the water. Only a carpet remained. The place was quite clean and there were signs posted all about. Warning signs, closed signs, historical signs – all inevitable I suppose. Or was it just knowing that this may be the last time I will ever be here?
The water was the usual. Hot at the spring gradually cooling down as it flowed away. Reeds and grasses choked the stream once the temperature cooled to a point where they could survive. I wandered around a bit, then got on the Honda, kicked it to life and puttered away glancing over my shoulder for one last look as I reached the railroad tracks.

Several of the dunes on the Playa have been fenced off with wood posts and rails. It is an attempt by the BLM and Friends of the Black Rock to keep motorized vehicles off of them. It is nice that they are being protected but the fencing poses an odd image, as if the dunes are corralled in from escaping.

Back to camp where I ate a too much lunch (my stomach which bothered me the rest of the afternoon) and set up my shooting range for my little .22 rifle. My first shot was at a small rock 50’ away and I hit the thing! I shot at it again to see if it was just dumb luck and hit it again. “Careeeinggg” ricocheted the bullet off down the Playa. I was very surprised. I then placed a paper target out 100 feet and two tin cans out at 184’ and 212’. First shot at the target – bull’s-eye. I shot again. Another bull’s-eye! I placed 4 out of 5 shots on the red bull’s-eye. I couldn’t believe it. I then tried the first can. Pow! I looked in the spotting scope and there was a hole in it! I did it again. Another hole! I tried the furthest can and was able to hit it too. There were a few misses on the cans but the little single shot 22 with the scope was dead on.

The automatic I brought home from the farm wouldn’t feed shells into the chamber. I worked with it for awhile but couldn’t get it to work. Looks like someone (?!) tried to fix it making it only worse, so I’ll have to get rid of the gun somehow. I had wished I brought my grandfather's automatic now so I could really shoot up those tin cans. The plinking didn’t entertain me as long as I thought it would. Soon I was back with my book.

The wind picked up around 3 and I retreated inside to read. By 3:30 I was napping. I got up a half an hour to the sound of the wind is ripping along at 25 mph. The sky is overcast so at least the sun isn’t beating down on me now. I am trying my best to stay in the shade and with a hat on at all times. This place takes a toll on the body and I feel the older I get, the easier it is for the Playa to beat me under. My eyes are sore. From the glare, dry air or what I don’t know. Overall I feel drained without much energy to do anything. This is a strange place that can do that to you.

I caught up my journal notes and read, taking it easy for the rermainder of the afternoon. I had only a salad and a few soda crackers for dinner (stomach issues remember). No more whole sandwiches for lunch. I’ll stick to a half a sandwich for lunch from now on. Lights out and to sleep at 9.


  1. Sounds like a very interesting area. Maybe not to a lot of people, but me, I like arid,unforgiving places.

  2. Most any arid dry expanse such as a dry lake or the Salt Flats can provide that unique deafening quiet solitary experience, but the Black Rock Desert has all the pioneer history added to it which makes it special. To be out there and try to imagine doing so 150 years ago with a wagon, oxen and months already on the road, you just can't. Thanks for your comments.


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