Our 1991 Tracker

Michael purchased an old 1991 GEO Tracker in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park from an original owner and we had our nephew, Ryan, work on it to get it ready for off-roading. We used to have a Baja Bug named Thumper that Michael stranded us on a sand dune once without water and we had to use our hands to dig ourselves out in 112-degree heat. I have not been particularly fond of off-roading ever since. But this Tracker is wonderful and even has a Kenwood Radio with Bluetooth mounted on the dash that plays Pandora Radio with our favorite Manu Chao and Bob Marley music blasting. I can handle most any situation with good music playing.

Yesterday morning we took it out on our maiden journey to the Kolob Reservoir to see how it would handle. I stressed emphatically to Michael that if we broke down or got stuck anywhere, I would not go out with him again. He behaved himself and the Tracker responded with grit and guts. One particular section of the road had been washed out and boulder hopping would have been our only choice, so we turned around and headed back the same way rather than frighten me again. I could tell that Michael was itching to test the very limits of his little jeep, but turn around we did.

We parked the car next to the shoreline of the reservoir and had a picnic and listened to the thousands of bees pollinating the fields of flowers while we snacked on apples and sunflower seeds and cookies. The wildflowers were out in abundance and the weather cooler at a higher elevation. The temperature in Zion is about 95 degrees but there is no humidity and the sky has wispy clouds sailing past and everything is fresh and alive. It looks like the water level is pretty low but the monsoon season is coming up and I think the rains will fill up the lake again soon. Angel’s Landing and Emerald Pools were washed out about a month ago and are closed to hikers, so the monsoon storms can punish the landscape with torrential amounts of water that causes flash flooding. We want to someday get a permit to explore the Subway, which is a beautiful hike that you can take but only with a guide. I hear it can take up to six months to acquire one.

So, thank you so much, Ryan, for doing such a fabulous job with Tracker. I feel confinement that it will handle itself admirably as long as Michael uses his head and behaves himself and thinks of the consequences before he takes the risk.

Callie doesn’t like being left behind from any of our adventures, but the Tracker doesn’t have air-conditioning and we need to have the windows down. She hangs out in the RV but gets several walks a day. She particularly loves going to the dog park when the dogs are not around. She acts like when she grows up, she wants to be a dog.

Walking on the Moon

Today we decided to collectively go on a big adventure and off road to Sandstone Canyon at Split Mountain in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park to visit the wind caves. Callie had to be left behind because I wasn’t sure how hot it would get and it just felt wiser to let her rest quietly at home.

It was quite a bumpy ride and Michael may have ended up on the wrong road, (we turned down a less traveled canyon trail) because it got so narrow and the rocks were too difficult to navigate. You actually follow ancient river beds where flash flooding occurs when it rains heavily. We almost made it to the end before we were forced to turn around and head back to the wind caves to watch the sunset.

As you ride along, you pass an unusual geological rock formation called an ”anticline” or ”drag fold” that leaves you in wonder at the powerful forces that would have created such an unusual site. Geologists believe they were caused by massive flash floods that churned and pushed rock and sand in front of the water. This particular flood came to an abrupt halt when it hit solid granite rock. The layers of sand and rock folded up and over itself because it couldn’t go any further. Continuous erosion and flooding lowered the river bed and exposed the canyon walls that we see today.

Right as we got to the sign describing the geology of the scene, a coyote dashed passed us in fright because the canyon walls were too high for it to scamper up and the opening was so narrow, the coyote was forced to run right past us.

The wind caves were amazing and looked like little pueblo dwellings or something on a moonscape! They apparently were formed by the onslaught of robust and sustained winds over many years that carried sand and debris which then chipped away at the softer sandstone walls of parts of the canyon. You could stand up in some of them and it was a perfect place to watch the sunset in the west.

The skies were still stormy and the temperature cold enough for midday exploring in the desert. The sunset dimmed in shades of molten gold and amber and faded into pale tints of purple and pink that unfolded ever so slowly. By the time we were finished watching the sun dip behind the clouds, it suddenly grew dark and we had to scamper back down the trail at a quickened pace. Once we got to the car and headed for home, it was already pitch black out and our headlights cast an eerie glow on the steep canyon walls that were illuminated by the light as we drove along. The highway felt so smooth after our off-road adventure.

Queen of the Dash

We made the epic journey back to Anza-Borrego Desert State Park yesterday after 2 long days of driving. On Friday we experienced heavy traffic due to the New Year’s holiday, and even the diamond lanes were congested because families were on the move.

Callie was the QUEEN of the dash and takes her position in front of me as soon as the RV motor starts up with a roar. Her desire to be a part of the action is so adorable. She is such a good sport about being on the road from morning to dusk and takes it all in feline stride.

It feels good to be home, even if all the off-roadies have kicked up so much dust and sand, that it looked like a major storm was blowing across the dry, desert sand. My sister Gayle and her family are camping at Ocotillo Wells over the weekend, so we are going to check out what kind of fun she is experiencing sometime later today. She has 2 sons and a husband who love to off-road. We are in opposite camps when it comes to enjoying the desert. Gayle is also introducing her 2 dogs, Murphy and Mazy to a life of camping, so it will be a treat for me to see how they are handling all the commotion too!*

Anza- Borrego Desert State Park is divided in two by the off-roadies who want to roar over the sand in dune buggies at blinding speed; feeling the wind in their faces and the thrill of wide open terrain below their wheels, and those that admire the solitude and quiet of the desert, but try to have as little impact on all the plants and animals that call this place their home. Both groups must share this unique dessert, and this weekend, what with mild temperatures, and it being a 3 day holiday, it has brought an unusual amount of human desert enthusiasts to my usually quiet, desert home.

* On a footnote- Michael and I were able to visit my sister and her family on Sunday, and we found them in Ocotillo Wells after searching for about an hour. The dust was so thick that you couldn’t see very far, but the smiles were huge on their faces, and it was obvious that they had had a fabulous time. Families everywhere were having fun in spite of it being a very different crowd than what I used to. It was a good experience for me to see the other side of having “fun” in the desert!

From Dawn to Dusk

The morning started out bright and early with Callie once again expecting me to get up and serve breakfast so that she and Michael could go back to sleep for a couple of hours. It is rather funny and because I am a morning person, it is no big deal. As soon as I fed Callie, Michael was already sleeping and Callie tucked herself into the tent I created for her on the sofa. It is chilly at night but today it reached 85 and it felt warm to me. It is nothing compared to Anza Borrego though, which will hit a high of 121 on Tuesday. Those kinds of temperatures are a killer for birds and mammals and plants. It is so hot that when you take in a deep breath, your lungs feel scorched.

Michael and I went on a fabulous off road bike ride again this morning and because it was so difficult, I am considering packing a first aid kit. I wear a scarf around my neck in case I will ever need a tourniquet, but can see the use of bandages and wraps for all kinds of injuries. You can’t see the deep sand in the shadows when it is mixed with dappled light and the ruts in the trails trap you before stopping you in your tracks. I had air put in my tires this morning and I think the added pressure made for a much more difficult ride. We made it back to the RV in one piece though and felt the zen of having a strenuous workout roll over our shoulders all day today. 

Fred decided to head back home this morning so Michael, Callie and I have the rest of the vacation to ourselves. I will be able to celebrate Father’s Day and not worry about Fred anymore. He blew a tire heading home and is waiting for a tow service as I write. The same right back tire that we had a flat fire with! RV’s sit a lot and the tires are the first to show wear and tear. He has a long way to go yet to get home, I wish him the best.

Callie got a morning walk and was able to hang out on the picnic table most of the day while Michael worked on the bikes. She is getting more than her fair share of excitement and the strain is starting to show. When I find her up in the loft in between the rungs of the step up ladder to the loft bed, I know I have sufficiently worn her out from dawn to dusk. Wearing out a cat is always a good thing!

Off Road Biking & One Tuckered Out Cat

It is beautiful here in Mammoth. The sky is cloudless and the sunshine just bright and warm enough to add color and light. Michael and I went off road biking after introducing Fred to some road biking around Shady Rest Campground beforehand. Fred bought a new bicycle yesterday and it is a beauty. We did some test riding and then left him back at the Campground to rest. The altitude takes some getting use to and we have been doing some hill work.

I would have to say that off road biking is about as good as it gets. It reminds me of horseback riding with just a hint of danger if you get caught in deep sand, or you run over a rock. I haven’t been thrown yet, but know it is inevitable. One minute you are speeding along, and the next minute you are stopped mid-track. We were able to bike on some well maintained logging trails that were shaded by massive pine trees and carpeted with pine needles. We did a loop around the Campground and it took us maybe 45 minutes. At one point we biked along an airplane and helicopter strip that must be used for emergency plane landings or for the forest fire service. 

Callie had a long walk this morning and I would have to say that it was her best walk yet! She turns when I whistle and when I tug gently on the leash. She also walks at a pretty good clip. She has gotten the hang of it and enjoys seeing the sights. She doesn’t seem to smell everything like a dog does, but rather stops and stares and then stops to stare some more. Her eyesight is more dominant and she uses her eyes more than her nose. Our walks are lasting at least 30 minutes now and when she is tired she lies down and lets me know she has had enough. I couldn’t ask for a better RV pet companion. She is so tuckered out that I think I will pass on the bike ride with her in the basket today. We can do another walk later in the day.

I thought Morro Bay was the best place to bike after Anza Borrego in the winter…. But I have to say that Mammoth in the summer is about as good as it gets. It is a very bike friendly town. I am so appreciative that we have stayed put and can hang out until Monday morning. We are just now beginning to explore the bike and hiking trails and I much prefer it to road biking. I don’t like biking around cars. Two more full days of biking and enjoying ourselves at New Shady Rest Campground and then on to Convict Lake. I got a call back from the host and he said we will be able to have our pick of campsites after Father’s Day weekend…..

Font’s Point Anza Borrego Desert State Park

Font’s Point is an off road vehicle destination, and was home to prehistoric animals such as camels and horses a long time ago. What is is now the desert was once the sea bed. You can still find seashells in the petrified dunes and evidence of fossils everywhere you look. When you focus your gaze out over the Point, you can view the Salton Sea to the east and Mexico to the south. To the east is Borrego Springs where I live and north has the Santa Rosa Mountains with Palm Springs on the other side of the mountain range. The winds were blowing so strong today that we couldn’t let Callie out of the car. She did get to enjoy the drive to the point with the windows down and the wind blowing through her fur though.

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Checking out Font’s Point

Our daughter is driving to Anza Borrego from Redlands, California and with all the storms pounding the desert, we were concerned about road conditions in the low lying areas that are subject to flash flooding. We decided to take Callie for a car ride and to make sure Lara would be able to get through. There was quite a bit of damage but no road closures. Callie loved the drive and the weather was really brisk and dramatic. Now Callie can settle down and relax for the evening. She was starting to get really bored and now she is relaxed.