A Traveler and his Cat exploring America.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Amboy, California

I don't think anyone will be too disappointed if I skip the highlights of beautiful Bakersfield or lovely Barstow. I'll just say the best view of these two towns can be seen in your rear view mirror. After that first forced camp in a Bakersfield RV park we made it out to what is left of the little town of Amboy on the original Route 66 crossing the Mojave Desert.

There are two extinct cinder cone volcanoes in the area. This is Amboy Crater which is 250 feet high and about 6000 years old. One can hike to the top of it, but I did not. We had places to go and time not to waste. I do find it amazing the ability of plants to grow within a lava field.

New to the area though is a paved parking area with an interpretive site about the area and craters. It was not here two years ago. So this nice to know as it provides a convenient and quiet overnight spot when crossing the Mojave. Plus you are always treated to beautiful desert sunsets.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Death Valley

Going to Death Valley was the right thing to do. Well, the right thing to do would have been to stay in Texas longer. So if you are keeping a list of STID's (Silly (or stupid) Things I Do), there is another to add. The weather in Death Valley was ideal (70's and 80's) and that is where we were for the past five days. This coming friday they said it is to be 102 there. We left yesterday driving along the eastern side of the High Sierras which were gorgeous in their winter cloak of snow, but pictures of that in due time. We got home today at noon and it is great to be back. I missed my wife very much. I will endeavor to post daily all the things that Sinbad and I experienced on the road in the past month. 

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Enough With the Wind

Okay buddy, we'll get outta here.

We've been in Arches National Monument for the past several days. Two days ago the wind was something fierce but I didn't let it deter me to get some hiking in. Although I didn't put in that much mileage I was whooped afterwards. I think I was just beat up by the wind. Yesterday was much better with wind at half the speed, clear blue skies with off and on clouds. This made for much better picture taking but I wasn't about to repeat the previous hikes just to get better pictures. I had other arches to hike in to and see. By this morning I was arched out. Add to that lows in the 30's at night and windchill all day long, time for this boy and his cat to move on. Arches NM is a great place and I will return but at a better time of the year.

So what to do? I thought about revisiting Great Basin National Park on the Nevada/Utah border and do some hiking there among the bristle cone pines. Then we could take my much loved Highway 50 across Nevada slowly making our way back home. We left Arches this morning and I saw at the visitors center they were expecting rain tomorrow. Good time to go. I was able to get online in Green River Utah and do a weather check for Great Basin. Snow and lows of 26 degrees. Yikes! I tried to think of other places to hang out then go home through Reno over Donner Pass. Reno weather for this weekend...rain, snow and added yuck. I do not want to be driving in that! The only thing left to do is head south. For warmth we'd have to return to where this adventure all began, the low deserts of Arizona (too far away) or...the place where I have had more misadventures than I care to have, Death Valley. But it will be 75 on up to 87 there the next few days and less mileage out of the way to return home. So at the present, that is what we will do. Drove 305 miles today and overnighting in Cedar City Utah. Tomorrow through Las Vegas. Not looking forward to that.

It snowed last night! Oh my, we might die!
"Twizzle, twazzle, twozzle, twome - time for these two to come home."

Sunday, March 20, 2011

It Is Your Land, Respect It.

   I wasn't going to write about this but then this blog wouldn't reflect all actuality then would it? We spent the last day and a half driving through The Navajo Indian Reservation in the Four Corners region of the southwest. I felt like I was driving through a trash can. The debris and litter across the landscape can only be matched by that of an inner city ghetto or third world country. It was amazing that for the brief 15 miles we were off the reservation in the corner of Colorado the countryside was clean once again. Then back into Utah and the Navajo land, all the empty beer cartons, bottles and plastic bags windblown around sagebrush reappeared once more. I could go on but enough said, for now at least.
   Campgrounds are non-existent in the Indian area and we were forced to overnight in a Wal-Mart parking lot in Farmington,  New Mexico. I must say it was one of the nicest overnights outside of the wilderness yet. Very quiet. The only thing to be heard was the occasional message "Would an available Wal-Mart associate please report to women's wear for customer service" or "Anthony Martinez please come to the front check-out. Your family is waiting for you."
   After a couple failed attempts at Forestry Service campgrounds we had to settle for a small RV park in Monticello, Utah. "The water isn't turned on because of the possibility of freezing so I am only charging $15, no tax" said the young mother down on her hands and knees cleaning up a mess while her two young children watched. That was fine with us. We ended up being the only ones here for the night. Even finer.

Sometimes Sinbad likes to take in the scenery from under his movable home.
I am happy to report that Mr. Dirty Cat is no longer so. His fur is once again smooth and soft. He seems to have got all the rolling around out of his system. No, he doesn't get grease on him from under the vehicle.

Friday, March 18, 2011

A Change of Scenery

The Cliffs along the Rio Chama
We ended up going through Sante Fe New Mexico yesterday which wasn't really the plan. Well, we don't ever have much of a plan come to think of it. But I am glad we went this way as Sante Fe is a neat town. I know though I could not live there for it gets too cold and snows in the winter. As we motored on north the scenery began to change looking more like what I am familiar with. I love this type of landscape and now for the first time, I think we have a plan...we're going through the Canyonlands of Utah. I've been there before a couple times and know I will never grow tired of it.

Sinbad and Snow

Last night we camped in the high country (6000 plus feet) of New Mexico near the Colorado border. This was Sinbad's first exposure to snow in his life. He wasn't too impressed. He walked off to explore other things shaking his feet off as he left the snow.
These were just small patches and the locals tell me there should be more snow than this left over from the winter. Wish there was some way I could send the rain from home over to these ranchers.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

New Mexico Sunset

   Last night I was sitting inside updating my journal and looked out to see this. I was trying to eliminate buildings and power line poles so I zoomed in a bit and the result was I don't think they would have been visible anyway. But I liked how the shot came out, which happens to be straight out of the camera. The sunsets the past week in Texas haven't been so spectacular as they were in Arizona. You need those clouds I suppose to make them dramatic.
   This poor area we've been in for the past week is really hurting for some rain. In Big Bend they said the last rainfall was in July. The Prickly Pear cacti were dry and shriveled up like the skin of an old man. Here in New Mexico I've stayed at State Parks along reservoirs that are extremely low in water. I observed one pond where the Great Blue Heron needed to stand in one spot and repeatedly pick fish out one by one as they were concentrated to a small area. Now I am in Santa Rosa, N.M. and it bares no resemblance to my hometown of Santa Rosa, Ca. Here the vegetation is a dry yellow brown while home everything is green and drenched in a daily rain.
   Think we'll stay on the road.

For you Sinbad Fans...

It was asked if Sinbad likes to navigate from the passenger seat. Well no, he is not interested in the empty and open to him passenger seat. He prefers this if he wants to be up front.
This usually last for only a few miles then he's off in back somewhere. But he does have the uncanny knack of picking the most opportune times to be in my lap. If we are cruising around a campground real slow looking for a site, he'll want to stand looking out the window much to the delight of campers. I hold onto his tail so he doesn't fall out. That happened one time in the Land Rover long ago when we were putzing along on a desert dirt road.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Heading North

   We left Big Bend National Park yesterday taking the scenic route (one of those thin lines on the map that has dots running alongside) along the Rio Grande over to Presido Texas. Then turned north for Marfa Texas where the above shot was taking as the sun rapidly set on the west plains of Texas. Today we drove to Guadalupe National Park planing on staying there for a day or two. But "camping" in a parking lot (literally) is not my idea of camping so we are now on our way towards Carlsbad New Mexico. (I should have taken a photo of the lot)
   We're having a great time seeing so many things, taking lots of pictures ("I think we're going to need a bigger card") and have lots of stories to tell when we get back home...none too soon. Again I am limited as to how many pictures I can download but hey, at least states like Texas, New Mexico and Arizona give travelers free wi-fi at some of their rest stops. I've not seen that in California. The roads are better, than rest stops are nicer and I could go on and on. California is over-rated. Really.

Friday, March 11, 2011


We left the White Sands of New Mexico aiming south for Texas and Big Bend National Park. Nine hours later and 413 miles behind us we were there. It was a good day.

That wasn't the plan but we were having fun driving through the vast plains of west Texas and honestly, there isn't nothing much there as the above photo shows. Hours and hours of this and I enjoyed every one of those miles. A friend of mine once said if I don't go mad driving through this area he'd make arrangements for me to see a psychiatrist.

Texas is BIG. When I entered at El Paso at the western corner of the state, I saw a highway sign stating 'Dallas - 522 miles'. People in California think driving from San Francisco down to Los Angeles (347 miles) is a long drive, but it is something I take lightly. Yet if I lived in El Paso Texas, I may give going to Dallas a bit more consideration. And I would still have another 150 plus miles to reach the eastern border. I'm sure the Texans think nothing of it.

The really neat thing is were at the same latitude as midway down Baja. The weather is warm and nice. The really so not neat thing is I should have came here to the Big Bend area years ago when I had my Land Rovers for there are miles of dirt roads to explore and back country camping to be had. But I am enjoying being here on these terms and am seeing birds like nowhere else before. Now if they would only cooperate and pose for their photo to be taken!

White Sands of New Mexico

Sinbad wasn't all that impressed with the White Sands. He didn't even bother to roll in it. The good thing though was there were not any people around and he enjoyed that.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

More for you Sinbad followers

I think I figured out how I can submit more than one photo now but it is a convoluted process so future posts may be limited to just one picture in order to keep my headaches at a minimum. It may be easier just doing multiple posts instead. I'll see how it goes at the next wi-fi hook-up I get on.

These are the additional shots of Mr. Scrounge I couldn't add before.
This is suppose to be orange fur.

I made the mistake of using my brush on him since I forgot his at home. Yuck! I cleaned my brush in the dishwater when I was done doing dishes that day and he can just go on and live with himself as it suits him.

New Mexico

We see this every evening. I shall never grow tired of it.

We've been out of contact with everything for a few days in Cave Creek Canyon near Portal Arizona. A really nice place and a favorite among birders for several species out of Mexico will frequent the area. All I saw were DBBs (dirty brown birds).  

For Sinbad's Fan Club
When we get somewhere, the first thing he does is roll in the dirt. He gets so dirty that I have to sweep him clean with a whisk broom. I don't even want to touch him he's so filthy.

We are in New Mexico now near the White Sands National Monument. The closest one can camp to the monument is 15 miles away in Alamogordo. Once again we are forced into an RV park but at least I can get online although it is weak. The above was already to go at the New Mexico visitors center just across the border but once again, the wi-fi was so weak I couldn't upload any photos. Well once again I am having that problem, as I had some close-up shots of the dirty cat but cannot get them to upload. So I have this to work on tonight; trying to reduce the size of photos might help. Anyway, in the morning we go visit the White Sands and Sinbad will have the largest litter box he's ever seen at his disposal.


Saturday, March 5, 2011

Arizona Sunset

We are enjoying scenes like this every evening. This is the time I take Sinbad for his evening walk. Any later than this and it is black. Black as can be. There is no moon out and other than the thousands of stars in the sky, there is no light. So walking around outside is not a good idea with all the cholla lying about on the ground. Seeing the comments on previous posts, Sinbad seems to be very popular so I will try to include a photo of him more often. We are now heading towards Tombstone but will make a sidetrip over to Fairbank on the way. I saw pictures of it on another blog and it looks to be a interesting ghost town. Being the weekend I don't think going into Tombstone would be a good idea at the this time. Besides I am not one who really goes for the touristy stuff, and Sinbad doesn't like to be around so many people. More next time I can get online. Thanks for following along.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

In Arizona

It is nice to be in the desert and out of the cold and wet of home. But the change is too soon and as much as I like the hot, whew...let's just say it is wonderful here and I need a couple days to acclimate. We spent last night at Amboy on old Route 66 east of Barstow. Like Bakersfield, Barstow is not a place you want to stay in any longer than to get gas. Nasty. We drove through Desert Center then east through Blythe (another one of those "B" towns you don't want to write home about) and on into Arizona. Will camp in the desert tonight and figure out where to next from there.

Sinbad enjoying the morning sunrise from his side porch step.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Welcome to California

We had a nice drive yesterday arriving at a small little used State Park (Allensworth SP) we know about only to find it closed. I should have known with the financial crisis this state is in and cutbacks being made to the all the parks and services. Just didn't think about it. I stopped, made a cup of tea and considered what to do...press on. There is really no place else until we reach the deserts near Mojave and that was hours away. In Bakersfield I spotted an RV park looking down from Highway 99 and there we rolled in at 5 PM. Egads, camping in an RV park in Bakersfield! It can only get better. But hey, I have Internet access and can make a post.
It is sprinkling this morning but at least it is warmer. It will be dry and nice driving through the desert today.
Sinbad is right by my side as I write this and patiently waiting to get out and roll in the dirt later today.