Archive for January, 2008

Desert Pavement

Monday, January 14th, 2008

Hiking in the desert is fairly easy. The views are distant, the plants life is well dispersed, though spiny, the cactus is easy to avoid, and the surface is easy to negotiate due to the ‘desert pavement‘. In some places it’s like walking on a mosaic tiled lane. This however is man-made desert pavement, a little patio I laid between the camper and trailer.

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The pictures just don’t do the rocks justice, they are so sparkly with quartz and pyrite (fools gold)!

Black Mountain

Sunday, January 13th, 2008

A motorcycle ride took us to a distant mountain peak that is covered with antennas and microwave towers. Black Mountain is so named because from a distance it looks very black. As we rode up the gradual slope we noticed that the color is derived from the surface rocks that are covered with desert varnish, a dark, glossy thin layer composed of minerals oxidized, over the course of thousands of years, by bacteria living on the rock surface.

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From the peak we looked east towards the Colorado River. We saw it as a ribbon of blue with margins of green vegetation in the distance as it emerges from the Picacho Peak Wilderness. The landscape is so large it just doesn’t translate well to a tiny website picture!

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Hiking in the Desert

Friday, January 11th, 2008

It’s warm and sunny, but very windy a lot of the time. We try to hike at least four miles a day. We headed out on one of the many gravel roads criss-crossing the mountains, then ventured off into a little canyon or dry wash.

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There must be episodes of very heavy rainfall from all the erosion evidence.

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Not all holes in the rock are man made! The man made mine entrances have piles of tailings spilling from them.

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From Oasis to Desert

Thursday, January 10th, 2008

We’ve moved on to the desert south and east of the Salton Sea, at the base of the Cargo Muchacho mountains. The amazing Algodones Dunes lie west of us. We can see them from our vantage point. They may be the result of these mountains eroding over the millenium, or the accelerated erosion caused by the extensive mining of the area over the last 300 years!

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The ocotillo have leafed out meaning there has been some precipitation recently. A few are still in bloom.

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The Dunes are the very faint beige line on the horizon to the left.

Another Day Under the Palms

Saturday, January 5th, 2008

We returned to the Oasis via another road yesterday, hiking another 7 miles around and under the palm shade.

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Dos Palmas Oasis

Friday, January 4th, 2008

A short 5 mile drive to the east of our campground lies another world, a fresh water palm fringed oasis. We drove to Dos Palmas Oasis and hiked 5 miles into and around this ‘jungle’ in the desert. The generous supply of water results from seepage through earthquake faults at the foothills of the Orocopia mountains. The seeming instant transition from desert scrub to tropical palms was amazing.

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The palms appear to be wearing thatch skirts!

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A pathway has been cut through the thick growth of the nearby San Andres Oasis. We were dwarfed by the huge palms.

A closeup of the palmettos reveals the sharp saw teeth lining the stems. We expected to see more sharp teeth, in the jaws of alligators maybe, we had the feeling of being in the swamps of Florida!

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Salton Sea

Thursday, January 3rd, 2008

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We are now camped by the shores of the Salton Sea. We drove in to the Salton Sea State Recreation Area campground to see what it was like, expecting the worst from information we have heard and read over the years. We were surprised and pleased with what we found and decided to stay for the duration of the big storms that are pounding the west coast right now. We are just far enough to the east to avoid the rain and the worst of the wind. The history of the Salton Sea is amazing, from bone dry to flood, from boom to bust, from fresh to salt. Worth seeing, but only in winter!

New Years

Tuesday, January 1st, 2008

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We spent our New Years Eve at a comedy show in the restored Fox Theater in Bakersfield, California. We walked 1+1/2 miles through a nice neighborhood to the theater from the RV park where we stayed. We explored the little retro downtown area and found a great little restaurant called Momma Roomba where we had dinner and met some nice folks before the show.