Travels With Ralf
Wow. National Geographic published my letter about thier (and my)
experiences with the BLM in the December 2001 edition. Never thought
what touched me about these lands would touch them.
(NGS edited text)
In the interest of not slowing down downloads in getting your
e-mail and to minimize bordom, I put the photos (and text) on this
Web page for your purusal. A page with thumbnails of all my photos
can be found here.
This will take approximately 3 min to load on a modem so beware.
*Car Date: 127500 (odometer reading) 4/19/01
As much as I tell him, Ralf doesnt understand that he is leaving Seattle,
probably never to see it again in his lifetime. Unfortunately, I do.
Dogs dont understand these concepts simply living for the here and now.
He is much stronger than I for I cry for him as we drive out of Seattle
on 99 blessed by a beautiful view of Elliot bay and reasonable traffic
for 4:50 PM. Future messages will be much less melancoly.
*Car Date: 127758 4/19/01
Ocean Shores - What a nice place. Just drive onto the beach ?&^%#
Unheard of ! No problem having a fire ? No WAY ! No leashes for your
dog ? Uncivillized ! Great !! No rules just right ! (Hmm..hungry for
a steak now). The Nautilus hotel even says I dont have to pick up after my dog (I do anyway) ! A fireplace /w a free presto log - wow !
Its warm and clear here as I drive my LTD down the beach - life is good.
Now away from this Shangri-La and toward Raymond, WA.
The Limited Edition - what style.
A happy dog - Ralf tossing his own ball in the air.
*Car Date: 127900 4/20/01
Ft. Stevens (Astoria) OR. - Camping at a develpoped campsite to see if
I can assemble my tent correctly before heading into the wild.
I hate public campsites ! Ralf must be tied up. All through the
night a couple guys were having a LOUD disscucion while drinking which
made it last till 4AM. Before that though Ralf and I fasioned ground
beef Shawarmas over the fire and had a fine bottle of Syrah (in a fine
Riedel glass). Much of the meat was lost to experimentation though (kept
falling off the metal barbacure tool I was using as skewer/serving
utensil). Not bad. Ralf was unhapppy not to get his own cot. Maybe next
camp Ill sleep on the floor and give him the cot ;-).
Drove along the OR beach (again - I dont understand how Greens would
allow this !) Not a soul on the beach - cool !
Ralf and I (thats the dog crate for air shipping ralf on my car).
*Car Date: Supplemental 4/21/01
Coos Bay, OR -
Seaview, Wheeler, Lincoln, Newport, Florence OR, -
All look the same after a while, time to go see something out of this world !
Crater lake here we come. Gardiner was a bit interesting though, a
company ghost town - preserved is a whole city of rusting gravel and
grain proccessing silo hulks.
Have not found what I am looking for yet. Isolated wilderness or beach
camping where Ralf may be loose (I think his radius is 300 yards from me
before he starts looking to come back).
Did do a wonderful beach hike near Florence and Heceta Beach that took us
through woods, dunes and creeks. Settled into Coos Bay for a happening
Saturday evening ;-).
What one might remember about Coos Bay
Where I would love to own a piece of property (south of Lincoln, OR)
*Car Date: Supplemental 4/22/01
Roseburg, OR -
Jesus ! No signs ! Wanted to see how Bureau of Land Managment (BLM)
land looked and how isolated it
was. And IT IS ! But getting to it is a bitch. Not a soul on the semi-paved
logging roads and the barren hillsides of tree stubble is quite beautiful and
erie. Ended up doing this big loop for 3 hrs because a map had an error in it.
I found this out by eventually asking directions from a woman in Fairview
OR - awe the shame in it all, asking for directions from a WOMAN !
After another 3 hr drive of nice views and short walks, got so turned around
under an overcast sky, I couldnt tell
which way was East so I pulled out my GPS. Finnaly made it to Roseburg,
not as far as I had hoped toward Crater Lake (remember
Crater Lake ?) but its time to crash. Maybe tommorrow.
A map of BLM trails from Roseburg BLM
*Car Date: Supplemental 4/23/01
Near Diamond Lakes, OR - On my way to Crater Lake. Visited the Roseburg BLM office first.
Very friendly and helpful people in large offices and I got tons of free
maps (your tax dollars at work - thank you).
3 women behind the counter started calling every
Department of Interior office (Forest Service, Park Service, Army Corps of Engineers,..)
to help me find a book I was looking for and they wernt going to stop until they
found it (they did). The manager of the 3 actualy knew exactly where Tenleytown
(where I live in DC) was since she had lived and worked in Ballston (another subway
stop in DC) for years. Said she missed the "attitude" people gave you in DC.
Went hiking on a nice trail to "Pit Lake No.1 and No.2".
Was actually very nice since Ralf went swimming and the whether was in the 80's, also
no people. Went on to Crater lake. Most of the roads were still snowed in but we
got to the summit. It was the usual stunningly beautiful scenery..ho hum. Then
we decided to bounce back to the "80 degree" Pit trails to camp. Nature can be brutal,
and to a pathetic once a year camper like myself, dangerous. Temperatures went below
freezing that evening and no amount of positioning could retain enough heat to
keep me warm. Ralf curled up in the tent like those huskies you see in the snow.
Luckily, morning came fast (for I was up late using up firestarters to try to get
what I thought was dry wood burning only to create a continuous stream of random
smoke signals - so pathetic). Ah the feel of frostbitten fingers. I guess I should be
thankful. Where is my hotel room !!
Another Crater Lake visitor
Deceptively warm looking camp site
*Car Date: Supplemental 4/24/01
Klamath Falls, OR -
A freak roadside attraction, I would have expected more, maybe in the midwest.
"Portals to the Past" - lifesized (to what scale is anyones guess) paper mach'e
prehistoric monsters. Freaks Ralf out.
Found a nice trail on Rt 140 west near Fourmile camp. Covered with snow but
that didnt stop us since the temperatures were in the 80's - it was shorts weather !
Ahh...a hotel room and nice steakhouse (Chez Nous - or as a local said it - chezz noose).
Turns out Klamath is farming community dependent on Klamath Lake for its
crops and the sucker fish is to the farmers what the spotted owl is to the loggers.
Sounds like these fish could live anywhere...so the local politics says.
Looks like Mt. McCloughlin (10k ft in 6miles) would be the thing to climb if it werent
Hot Snow on hike
The thrill of paper mach'e monsters - "Portals to the Past"
*Car Date: 129002 4/25/01
Arcata, CA -
All signs lead to Weed, CA , where "Liquor and Deli" means lots of liquor and
a single packedge of frozen burritos.
Since when did a burrito become deli. Oh well, I was hungry...burp.
Again, BLM at Mt. Shasta helpful in suggesting a real nice hike up Mt Shasta, not
that we would go to the top or anything. Left all the hikers wearing real
hiking boots behind just walking in my usual loafers and found beatiful snow
covered solitude (/w 70 degree air temp) and caught up on reading and some rays.
Ralf loved eating the snow.
On to Arcata on the coast via Rt. 299, one of the few roads that connect
hwy 101 with I-5 and also THE ROAD FROM HELL. Twists and turns that I could only manage
25 mph on (with stuff tied to the roof) for at least 50 miles while semis sped around
at 60 mph and the scent of an exploded Crabtree and Evylin store filling the air.
Made it to Arcata for rest and a midnite snack.
Who would call a place this ?
Ralf and I up McBride trail
Ralf in his element
*Car Date: 129093 4/26/01
The Lost Coast (near Shelter Cove, CA) -
Was hoping for a similar experience with the BLM office in Arcata, but no.
They only cover the lost coast/Kings Range buts thats all I was going to anyway
(Again, a great tax dollar funded BLM building). The lost coast is a part of
the CA coastline that does not have a road tracing it like the rest of CA, hence
the name. There are 2 access points to the coast. I took one via
Shelter Cove road or what I call HELL'S WORST ROAD ! Made 299 to Arcata look like
a superhiway. Locals driving by at 50 mph along with a mix of 180 degree hairpin turns
rising and dropping 3000 ft and hell, at some points just skipping the switchbacks
and just going straight up at grades I dont think are legal (along the way they
are memorial signs indicating where R.V.'s have crashed). The LTD oddy enough made it.
What nice property in the hamlet of Shelter Cove. Reminded me of Cape Cod but not
tacky, mostly high end, and never too hot or cold.
Once I reached the beach, I realized I had reached nirvana.
No rules, no people, a pristine black sand beach (like I was looking for in
Hawaii but nevern found), an other worldly view, and warm temperatures even at night.
This was exactly what I had been looking for for Ralf this whole trip.
But much to my dismay, it didnt seem to excite him that much.
In fact, even though I was carry all the gear/food for both of us, he gave up
after a couple miles. Sure its a little tough walking on sand but its the beach !! @#$%&^.
I think he would have prefered a hotel ! Anyway, after catching a beautiful
sunset and cooking some wienies I decided to try my had at a fire again. My god, it
worked. A big roaring fire - my manhood has been reclained ! And boy, nothing goes
better with a fire than some Talisker Scotch. Takes the edge right off. Unlike the
dream machine generated surf sounds, these were the real thing and off to sleep
land I went. Ralf however never seemed to settle down. I dont think he slept well.
Begining of the beach
Ralf /w stick
Could be anywhere
Ralf and I
*Car Date: 129293 4/27/01
Gualala, CA -
Tried to get Ralf to hike down the beach a bit further to another trail but no go.
I think after a few false scrambles up the cliffs his trust in my navigating skills
is diminished. He would just stop and sit on the beach everytime I tried another
trail inland. Oh well, back on the road down 101 then 20 then along the coast on 1
by Fort Bragg. Beautiful country with farms right on the coast. By afternoon
Ralf was interested in romping in some of the parks along the coast (still doesnt
like sand though).
Ended up in Gualala. Thought I would visit where my fax number lives (707-885-xxxx).
Turns out that this town of 550 people has an abundance of telephone exchanges
(who knows why - maybe there is a missle command center underneath me) so these
free phone number services you get off the net (efax, j2, etc..) give you numbers
from places like this. Wonder if this is a tax deduction ;-).
Very low key small town with a unasumming food mart that is half fancy wine and the
other half fine meats and an olive bar. Very nice - Ralf and I got our dinner fixins there.
Spent the evening doing e-mail (of course these guys have thier own local dial-up
access as well).
View from a scramble
Lets go home
*Car Date: 129450 4/28/01 4/29/01
Frisco/Burlingame, CA -
Took Ralf to Gualala Recreation Area next to town. They may charge 3 bucks to
get in but what a lovely park ! And not too crowded even on a Saturday. Lots of
views for me and smells for him and not all beach. Kept stopping by a number of
coastline parks on our way down to meet Kathie near SFO. One in particular, Sonoma
Coast Vista Trail (near Jenner), was spectactular. We could have spent all day there.
The trail goes on to a bluff then drops down to a jetty then, if one desires, you
could just walk down to the Pacific ocean. The winds were so strong there that Ralf
was continually hopping on his front legs to get a better wif of the smells being
carried in the air. Plenty of gopher holes, between the tall grass, to dig too.
Decided to stop by Sebastopol, CA - I figured a pilgimage to Skansen Kennels,
where Ralf was born, would be fun for him.
Its in the middle of farms with lamas, cows, and horses (unfriendly to my trailer hitch).
He loved the smells but the incessant barking from all his cousins just anoyed him.
He didnt even want to go over and chase them through the fences. I had hoped for
more of a reaction but I am told dogs have no concept of what they look like (so I
guess Ralf thinks he looks like Vicki and visa versa). So he didnt even care he was
surounded by his own kind. But, boy, did I want to take a few more of these
creatures home with me ! Well, next stop Frisco (I am told people from SF hate it when
you call it that).
Its a funny feeling to walk through the lobby of a nice hotel (Embassy Suites at SFO)
with what looks to most like livestock, all the time trying to be inconspicuous.
Glass elevators scare Ralf.
Beautiful park perfectly located to observe the dual (simultaneous) landing strips
at SFO along SF Bay.
The night we checked in it must have been some sort of kids party taking up the whole hotel.
All the evevator buttons pushed, uncalled for giggling, running through the halls, and
banging - where are the parents you ask ? - with today's attitude, does it matter ?
Hey, I am all for fun, and am the first to believe in total anarchy (really), but
if all the ruckus gets Ralf to bark, guess who gets called (in anarchy there is no blame).
Thank goodness it eventually stops and much to Kathie and I's amazment, the next morning
we wake up as if from a Rip Van Winkle slumber to find the halls still filled with people
but all 70-80 years old. Have we been asleep long enough for all the children to become
Ran into a wonderful woman from Seattle that was very interesting and a dog person
while we were out on the patio with Ralf watching planes. I miss Seattle.
Did some errands and an oil change and found out there was no brake fluid ! Glad
I caught that. Well Kathie flys back to DC and I guess ill head east toward Sacramento.
The view from Gualala
Through the wood to grandmothers house we go - Gualala Park
One that got sprayed by a skunk (not Ralf)
The city by the bay
*Car Date: 129745 4/30/01
South Lake Tahoe, CA -
Mostly just a long drive from SFO to South Lake Tahoe.
Amayzingly easy to get out of SF on 80 over the Bay Bridge and some beautiful
views of the city from Oakland. Stopped by Folsom CA outside of Sacramento to
see what the BLM could do for me (still hoping for the experience I got in
Roseburg OR). Wernt very helpful but they said the prison was just around the bend.
The famous Folsom State Prison of country songs ! Yes, and they had a prison
gift shop with arts and crafts the residents made. Didnt take the tour, too hot to
leave Ralf in the car, but it was nice to see. Stopped by the BLM maintained
American Rivers Whitewater area in Coloma (near Placerville). Was a nice hike
to the South Fork river. Made it to South Tahoe after a couple of steep grades
on hwy 50 and what a huge town. It just kept going on and on until, wham..
you hit the Casinos of Nevada. (no pictures worth downloading)
*Car Date: 129824 5/1/01
Zephyr Cove, NV -
Hiked around Fallen Leaf Lake and Angora Lakes right
next to Lake Tahoe. At this time of year most of the trails have parts
covered with snow so most are closed, as were these. All this means is
that you must pull the car off somewhere and hike to the trailhead
(amayzing to me that this is legal - imagine just pulling your car
off to the side of a main road in DC and just leaving it). An 7 mile
hike got nice scenes of both Fallen Leaf and Tahoe with the usual
snow on the ground and 75 degree air temperatures. The alpine Angora
lakes were great to hit and take a dip in - #@$$#% cold !
Did the Tahoe loop via Tahoe City and found very little in the way of
dog friendly public beaches but stopped at some ambiguous ones for
Ralf to get a drink. Ended up in Zephyr cove on the NV side.
What a funny place. Looked like during the summer its hopping with
umbrellas on the beach and rent-anything stands (all closed now).
Was told, however, I could
rent a power boat if the weather was nice tomorrow - oh boy.
Stayed in a ticky tacky cabin next to the beach. Glad I was here off
season since Ralf and I could just go exploring on the the beach and
the wooded park next to it. Ralf liked it, lots of good smells and
this cool little island/peninsula you could walk out to. We hung out
Fallen Leaf Lake
At the Angora Lakes
Having fun now
On the way to Tahoe City
*Car Date: 130030 5/2/01
Bishop, CA -
Dreaming about the Daily Doughnut at Pike Place while consuming
gas station coffee and doughnuts. Must use old motor oil for the
donughts and, strange, the coffee tastes like the doughnuts too.
While bashing the yet to be determined nesessary components
on the underside of my automobile (it still runs and I dont see
any puddles of oil) we made it to Lundy Lake trailhead, north of
Mono lake, after passing a rather scary jumble of dwellings labeled
"Lundy Lake Resort" that looked like it belong in West Virginia. The
Hike was beautiful though. Through forests, red rock, then a
little snow - all in a 1-2 hr walk. Ralf did pretty well on the
climb and we saw no one on the trail. Then we headed down toward
Mono Lake. I have this affinity toward salty pools of lifeless
water. They always look so good from a plane but up close there
are just flies and seagulls (Mono was not as bad as Salt Lake though).
Ralf ran around and chased some gulls in the mud so I had to
hose him down. Not much along the coast but at least now I know
what I am looking at when I fly across the country (its the one with
a dot in toward an edge).
Heading toward Bishop I got the yearning to camp again seeing all
the BLM land around us. Went east (toward Provincetown, MA) on
US 6 to see some nature on Fish Slough road and found a great spot
nestled in between some volcanic "tables". Stangely Ralf seemed to
want no part of setting up camp and found his own little nook
on a plateau overlooking me. Fire was too easy to start this time.
This sagebrush/bristlecone/mesquite stuff started with just one
match then caught fire to my pile of wood I set aside. At this point
I figured I should fortify my homemade fire ring with more rocks.
Cooked steak tips on the fire with pearl onions and had a cabernet.
Ralf eventually joined me in the tent after I made his bed but I
feel it was only out of courtesy. If it was a bit warmer in the
evenings I would love to try to go tentless as I think Ralf would
like it better.
Lundy trail 1
Lundy trail 2
Ralf and I at Lundy
(postcard) The way Id like to see Mono
Salt mud covered at Mono Lake
Aloof Ralf camping
Bishop, CA - on the way tp Provincetown MA
*Car Date: 130205 5/3/01
Tonopah, NV -
Drove up the Fish Slough road, no fishing or fish there though, to
try to see some of the purported wildflowers and wildlife. Alas, my
LTD just didnt have enough clearance and I figured sooner or later
those unknown undercarriage components would make themselves known
at an inconvienient place and time. Ok, I admit it, a truck or SUV
would be useful here.
Travelled to the BLM Wild Burro Reserve in Marrietta NV (gold rush
town ghost town now) with the hopes of chasing some burros. I carefully
read every sign along the way and I saw nothing that said I could not
let Ralf loose after some burro butt. Yee Ha ! I did reign him him after
a point since we got lost at some point. I know its all flat but thats
the problem. The coastline of the dry lakes all looks the same after
a point and Ralf has only a limited life in the heat (guess the burros
had the last laugh). Finnaly found the car and headed toward Tonopah
NV for the evening. Stopped by some beautiful BLM (read campable) land
around the deserted town of Coaldale, but decided to do Ralf a favor
and hotel it instead.
Burro in the bush
More Ralf bait
It was HOT but we found the car
*Car Date: 130498 5/4/01
Carson City, NV -
Tried as I might I found nothing in Tonopah. Sorry Cindy, there was just
nothing to be enthusiastic about here. Deserted buildings interspersed
with the occaisional pathetic looking casino. The busiest place was
at my Best Western hotel where they were having a geriatric biker
convention (bikers are scary looking even when they are 80+). Drove around
quite abit trying to find these Stealth bombers that are supposed to be
stationed there, but I couldnt find them - Really ! Lets get out of town !
Mina, Hawthorne, Fallon (promise of jets here too but where ?), Reno,
then Carson City. Hawthorne is the Army Amunitions storage facility.
Everywhere you look you see these concrete bunkers with ammo. If they had
an explosion there, the western half of NV would go up - surreal.
Stopped by the Walker Lake BLM area where you can camp anywhere along shore.
Although the water is receeding real fast (as was true with many of the
lakes in the west) it was still very beautiful.
The yearning for a real town led me to Reno/Sparks. All we found in Sparks
was this huge man made lake near a mall with a marina, blech. Downtown
Reno was just Casinos and suburban Reno looked like Redmond - keep
going. Carson City proved to be a very nice place. I didnt know CC was
the capital of NV. Ralf and I had fun wandering the superbly manicured
grounds of the various stately goverment buildings. Long day of driving
so got Ralf his raw meat and had Chinese food.
Scenes from Tonopah, NV
Army Ammunitions storage facility
Wlaker Lake outside Hawthorne
In front of the NV State House
*Car Date: 130848 5/5/01
Winnemucca, NV -
Seems like I could spend forever bouncing between CA and NV with
all the things to see and do around here but its time to think
about reality so head east I must. But not before getting a REAL
donught and REAL coffee from a chinese doghnut shop and stopping
by the Pick-n-Pull auto junkyard. Headed toward Gerlach/Black Rock
Playa in northwestern NV. On the way, however, we
found beautiful and deserted Pyramid Lake. Turned off near a small
sign that said Dago Bay onto a sand road toward the shore. Pulled
just one car width to the side to park and got stuck in the sand.
Very reminicent of New England winters. The more I tried to get out
the deeper I sank until the whole car was up on a pedestal of sand
and not a soul for 40 miles. Figured "screw it" - lets go play on
the beach and left the car there. Lots of driftwood for Ralf to
fetch and this is the first time on this trip I saw him romping
and enjoying sand dunes (Dago Bay has many). Too hot even after
wading in the lake and figured we might end up dieing here so went
back to try to solve the car problem. Digging did no good but I
figured, worst case, I would dig out the whole area around the car
and eventually get out. Just then a guy with his family showed up
with a truck and pulled me out by my hitch. What nice people !
It was the hitch that got me stuck and the hitch that got me out.
Reached Gerlach/Black Rock Playa.
No callboxes and at least 60 mi from anywhere thats nowhere
(N 40 deg 42' 10.1", W 119 deg 19' 49.5" to be exact). What
a @#$%# cool place ! Its like the bonneville salt flats but no
salt, just flat for as far as the eye can see - no roads.
But you cant see forever since stuff mirage's out so that
the mountains surounding you look like they are floating on water.
You just drive onto this surface and there are no rules (its BLM land).
And talk about isolation - this place is even better than
Death Valley for solitude. Solitude is a funny thing, all you
want to do is share it with someone (courtesy of Ed).
Here nature, instead of applying her twisted sense of humor as
in Death Valley, she seems to have missed this place simply
leaving things lay unmarred by growth, hydrolics, or selective
erosion. It was tempting to drag some figures into the surface
with the car to be construed by overflying aircraft as signs
of ancient visitors from another planet (its not hard to do -
really). A gentle wind blew as the late afternoon's golden light
illuminated the mountains. Only thing that would make it perfect
would have been someone serving umbrella drinks ;-) Time to go.
The lack of a sense of coastline makes it very difficult, except
for my own tracks, to find the two small poles on the horizon
that mark the only "exit" onto the road.
The drive back out of this corner was pretty and easy. Exhilerated,
we made it to Winnemucca, NV on 80.
Ralf in Pyramid Lake - Dago Bay
Pyramid Lake - Dago Bay
Black Rock Playa solitude
Mirage effect at Black Rock Playa
*Car Date: 131286 5/6/01
Ely, NV -
Decided to drive from Winnemucca to Wildhorse Resevoir in
northeastern NV (north of Elko).
Another isolated piece of BLM/Indian land. I think I now
have a feel for when a dirt road is legit for me to turn
on. Its never marked and doesnt have any barbed wire
visible as far as the eye can see. I dont fish but it was
a wonderful lake for fishing - fish everywhere.
Ralf really took to the sagebrush here although I think it
was mostly due to a few gophers scurrying into the
bushes - hours of fun. This is good since if I ever were able
buy land, it would probably be this generic sagebrush covered
desert stuff in the west. The BLM flyer specifically says
the only land it would sell must be useless agriculturally.
Thought since I was in the neighborhood it would be good
to visit Great Basin Nat Park in Ely, NV. It was a
long haul at 75 mph but what scenery ;-) I went by prisons,
desert pawn shops, boarded up pink motels, shot out signs
and cities that consisted of nothing but a Texaco truck stop.
What truck stops though. This one place had 12 volt everyting
- ovens, refrigerators, air fresheners, and every CB in the
world. These outposts of commerce also have what seem to be
mini flea markets with all sorts of stuff that "fell off
the truck". Called in a reservation for a motel in Ely and
when I arrived 1.5 hrs later, learned the counter help had
bets on how long it would take me to get there. Needless to
say Ely is a quiet town.
All that Winnemucca had to offer.
Looking for gopher butt at Wildhorse.
Swimming with the fish at Wildhorse.
clockwise: 75mph I love this country.
One guess what this means - yuck.
*Car Date: 131580 5/7/01
Wendover, NV/UT -
Stopped by the very nice BLM office in Ely to get an idea of
whats available for Ralf and I on the way to Great Basin.
Cleve Creek was off a long well paved road on BLM land. Watch
the cow guards though ! Got my first flat since I bought my car
there (in the middle of nowhere) and spent an hour replacing
the tire and looking for the hub cap (flew off) while Ralf just
wandered free in the distance. People are always ready to help
out here for I got an offer of help from the 2 trucks that came
by while there. Never seen so many cows on the road and neither
has Ralf - he went crazy. Unfortunately, we also came across
some recent calf roadkill as well. It was sad to see the mother
cow still standing around her dead calf. Made it to Cleve
creek up a dirt side road, watered Ralf and hiked around a bit.
Cows here too and Ralf started a small stampede with his bark
but luckily there was a cow guard separating the two.
Next stop Great Basin. Turned out to be a bust since, even if
I could see that the snow line was way up there, the rangers
had the park road closed - silly. And as soon as I said I had
a dog they got suspicious that I was going to try to camp. So we,
contrary to park policy, took a small hike around Mcclellan creek.
The BLM slogan is "enjoy YOUR lands" and I think the Park service
slogan says "OUR lands". My opinion of the Park Service is not
too good after this trip. Decided to head on a Forest Service
road on the way back out of the park. This was great ! Wandered
free, still looking for gophers, across land covered with
bristlecone pines and sagebrush. I think I found what would be
After grabbing some Taco Bell and driving through the semi-deserted
big town of McGill, NV headed toward Wendover on the NV/Utah
border. Tons of lights and casinos on the NV half - peace and
quiet and a monument to the "Manhattan" project squadron on the
Utah half - where we crashed for the night.
Ralf at Cleve Creek.
Great Basin - What we didnt get to go up.
Ely Forest Service road - "my backyard".
More of "my backyard".
postcard - what I could see from the Utah side of Wendover.
*Car Date: 131899 5/8/01
Wellington, UT -
Gotta go pick up Kathie today at Salt Lake City airport but
before that, gotta go visit the Bonneville Salt flats. Gee -
turns out its BLM land. Others were hovering around the end
of the pavement unsure as to whether they could drive on but
I knew from my previous experiences on BLM land and sped
right onto the flats. I learned that unless there is a sign
that says "no shootin - safe area" that you can fire away.
Yee haw - its like drivin on a Krispy Kreme doughnut (quite
pure tasting salt too). Another 100 miles and I hit SLC
civilization - gosh I have learned to hate big cities mostly
for their traffic. Sure glad I dont need to drive in DC.
Picked up Kathie and then decided to drive toward Desolation
Canyon in the east central part of Utah. Ended up in the
perfect little truck stop town of Wellington near Price UT.
Dog friendly and right on the main road. This is what I like
about avoiding the interstates on this trip. The secondary
routes are just as fast without any traffic with services
and pull-offs for hiking right on the road.
And where else would you get to see these kitchy little towns,
always with lawn ornaments for sale.
On the edge of town is a paved BLM access road toward
Desolation Canyon. Ralf and I took it for 11 miles to find an
beautiful isolated part of Minnie Maude creek canyon where
we were able get water and seek out some deer (for chasing
not shooting). Settled in with the usual cheese, bread, and wine
for the evening.
Bonneville salt flats.
Bonneville salt flats - wanna race ?
11.2 miles down 9 mile canyon road.
Minnie Maude creek.
*Car Date: 132232 5/9/01
Cortez, CO -
Never been to Arches NP so...but before that its time to do
laundry and clean out my nomadic transport. Continued
heading on 191 to the Green River BLM area. Most of this area
is designed for whitewater rafting and hence not to conducive
for Ralf and I. Ralf took off through the thicket of deer
paths that surround this canyon with me after him so I guess
he liked it. He eventually went to get a drink of water and
fell in to where it was too deep, didnt seem to care though
I had to walk into the mud to pull him out. Made it to Moab to
get some info from the BLM there. What a touristy place. Went
through Arches NP - ho hum. After visiting Zion a last year,
this was no big deal particularly since we couldnt go and
hike up close to the formations with dog. Whats the point if
you cant touch the stuff. What was real fun was the Wilson
Arch on BLM land. We were able to scramble to the top in
minutes where you stand on a shear cliff on one side and
slickrock on the other. A wonderful (and free) view of the
surrounding canyonlands. Next to this area was a perfect towering
canyon wall for graffitti facing the road but no one had
touched it. Funny, when its YOUR land, you dont need rules
and signs to keep things pristine.
Next we found Needles Canyon road to find thousands of acres
of "my backyard" for Ralf to romp in. Also found some natural
formations that clearly were used as ancient dwellings. What a
nice place this would have been to camp.
Headed into Colorodo on the evil US 666 toward Durango.
Farm flat until tonight's destination of Cortez. A nice town
but was difficult to get anything other than Boones Farm or beer
in the liquor stores. As the courteous counter help told us -
we would love to carry other wines but what you see is what
sells here. Oh well.
The Green River canyon where Ralf fell in.
Arches NP - Yawn...
Wilson Arch with K. Wilson
Talking a walk in my backyard
*Car Date: 132454 5/10/01
Gunnison, CO -
Visited Mesa Verde (green table ?) NP on our way out of
town. Turns out much of it burnt down in 2000 from a
lightning strike. Mildly interesting but not allowed to
dog it down any trails so found a sympathetic soul at the
Durango BLM/Forest service who suggested a few hikes on our
way to Pueblo. US 550 went through these deep canyons and
was quite Swiss Alps like. Found a closed campground where
had a snowball fight with Ralf (he catches them with his
mouth then chases you with his teeth baring for more).
Then we found Andrews Lake (at 10000+ feet). Only Ralf
and I went on this 4 feet deep snowed in road. Had my
trusty loafer/snowshoes/hiking boots/dress shoes on to
make every step a deep one (for Ralf as well).
Only thing stopping us from falling deeper was the other
foot (feet) bending outward.
Beautiful deserted alpine lake. #$%%@# cold - could only wade
it though the sun was warm enough to go without a coat.
Made it as far as Gunnison, CO where things were expensive
for some reason. Surprised a bartender by ordering
something other than beer. He did amayzing well at
making some dry martinis with limited resources.
Mesa Verde's burnt hills.
*Car Date: 132905 5/11/01
Dodge City, KS -
Neglected to say anything about the Blue Mesa Resevoir just
outside Gunnison. A beautiful huge isolated body of water
with many access roads that I think is shared Forest Service/BLM
and State place. Unfortunately we passed by it too late to
get any of my fellow travelers to make a go of it. Very
boatable, campable too. All these places to come back and
visit (so long as Ralf's legs and the airlines cooperate
- ill be back).
Breakfast in the Gunnison Public Park. Made it through the
mountains and beautiful Monarch Pass. A little further down the
road we found this wonderful little trail with sun, snow, trees,
and water. Spent some time sliding down the side of a hill and
Stopped at Pueblo Park on Lake Pueblo outside of Pueblo.
Looked like a nice place but Ralf inadvertantly discovered
the precursor to velcro. We were pickin these pricker seed
pods off of his undercarriage for the next 3 days. Never
seen anything like them.
Reached Dodge City KS by evening but couldnt find an open
liquor store (odd rules in KS) - got the shakes ;-)
Blue Mesa Lake - nice place to have stopped
Snow, water and sun - A great little trail just down from Monarch Pass
A large State park on Pueblo Lake
*Car Date: 133356 5/12/01
Kansas City, MO -
Got out of Dodge City Best Western early headin toward
KC, Missouri. Stopped near Ellsworth, KS at Lake Konopolis.
This was the only park out of miles and miles of private
farmland and noxious methane near the "feeding centers".
Almost made me a vegetarian. Very few gas stations out
here - running on fumes (unfortunately my car does not work
off methane) - thought wed get stuck. Looked into the college
town of Lawrence KS (I always feel more welcome near a
university) and it was perfect for an LTD and its dog but
all hotels were full (looked like graduation time). Got
to KC and found large Fleming Park on the edge of town.
A great fishin hole I was told but no wonder - lots of big
juicy bugs flyin around and laquring my windshield.
Still the walk in the cool evening air did us both
good. Kathie on the other hand found KC hotels to be dog
unfriendly while she searched for a place to crash. Finally
found a throw back from the 70's that looked like "Little
Eddie's Father's" place (the Park Place Hotel) and they didnt
even charge us the deposit since the hotel was due for a
Road animals in the car
Shadow of the "Limited" on the fields.
All we saw in KS were signs like this.
Car Date: 133773 5/13/01
Vincennes, IN -
Told I am on a mission now to get back ASAP and
there really isnt much to do or see once you are east
of Colorodo (Robert - you were right). Why so many people
live in the east I dont know, but "...people...people who
need people...are the luckiest people...in the world".
Besides, this is where the business/goverment is.
Therefore I will combine the next few days in one message
so as not to bore.
Headed toward St Louis on the Interstate for a change.
Got sidetracked on the way to St Louis Arch park and
took a tour of east St. Louis via the Martin Luther King
bridge. 60 minutes did a story on East SL sometime ago and
I will have to say they were right. Scary even by DC
standards and the
Mckinley bridge we had to take out of there not only was
bumpy and potholed, worse than any dirt road I have taken,
but there was a 50 cent toll (collected by a poor soul that,
by his hygene and dental work, looked like he lives in the
toll booth). The Arch park was touristed but very nice with
good views of the Mississippi and the city.
Decided to veer off the interstate and stay south to avoid
the execution goings on in Terre Haute, IN. Crashed in the
small town of Vincennes, IN on the border. Indiana has
some real issues with the national time zones imposed on it.
The map said EST but Vincennes says CST. Cool room that only
powers up when you insert the key in the wall - very
The St Louis Arch
Car Date: 134135 5/14/01
Charlestown, WV -
French Lick IN, Louisville KY, Frankfort, Lexington, Huntington WV.
Drive on , drive on. Lots of road kill - deer, dog, racoons, skunks,
- along the way. Some really winding Interstate 64 along
the way but not much else. All private land and lightly populated
throughout with many small "unincorporated" towns. Made it into
Charleston, WV without seeing many outhouses or mountain men.
Found a hotel near a Union Carbide plant (translation - lots
of places for Ralf to do his business) and railroad tracks. Very
industrial. Nice place though with many services. Took Ralf
on a long night walk through all the dark alleys of this
neighborhood for thrills - it wasnt a bad place afterall.
Funny sign on the way to West Virginia
FINAL - Car Date: 134473 5/15/01
Washington, DC -
First time I have see rain since Seattle - come to think of it
I didnt see any rain in Seattle either. And its been raining
here since !
Its time to do the final leg of this trip.
Clarksburg, Winchester, Fairfax, DC.
What is a "certified business location" in WV ? Attached to
many of the county signs in WV - what if it isnt.
Picked up Vicki in Chantilly, VA then home.
Yes, the Ford LTD - my dream car - is in DC. Dont know how long
though. The car and my beard may have to succumb to conformity.
No more leashless romps through the woods or jumping into
whatever body of water was close by. No more deep blue skies or
sun drenched snowy exploration with nothing to think about but
surviving the trek and stumbling into the closest town for the
night. I like this nomadic life. Its now late nights sneaking
through alleys, through parks that say closed at dark (how the
hell can you close a piece of land at dark - they will never
find us and Ralf will make sure no nefarious activity ever
happens there). Listening to but ignoring the intense Political
Correctness (PC) and Fear Uncertainty and Doubt (FUD) propoganda
that the media machine creates to fuel itself, keep lawyers busy,
and cause paranoia - what a vicious cycle. Having been disconnected
from the media for a month makes it abundantly clear - PC/FUD is
a fraud. Seeing just a small portion of this country through the
non-Interstate towns tells me that there is still hope for the
cityfolk to enjoy life like its 1955 - just turn the TV off.
But I am starting to rant....sorry.
Nearly 7000 miles later...
The reality of the road was great, but its time to return to
the artifice of life.
Seemed so short.
What was supposed to be a long 2 week trip turned out to be a
short 1 month one. Thank you all for putting up with these
messages from the road. I hope they feed your wanderlust.
Last stop - life.
With Ralf's stick collection and box on roof.
Cleaned up a bit.
What style !