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2013 Trips (30)

Reports on trips taken in 2013.

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2014 Trips (29)

Reports on trips taken in 2014.

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2006 Trips (0)

We apologize, many wonderful trips were taken in 2006, but no trip reports were submitted for posting to the website.

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2015 Trips (31)

Reports on trips taken in 2015.

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2016 Trips (42)

Reports on trips taken in 2016.

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2017 Trips (44)

Reports on trips taken in 2017.

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2018 Trips (27)

Reports on trips taken in 2018.

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Friday, 15 September 2017 23:48

Joso in the Oval Office?

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Joso in the Oval Office?

This is the kind of thing that haunts our dreams... Desert Explorer, reprobate and raconteur Bob Jaussaud at the helm of the ship of state. Here is the evidence:

Bob in replica Oval  Office, Nixon library,  Yorba Linda, CA.  Is that Putin calling?

Friday, 15 September 2017 22:23

Desert Explorers Meeting Minutes July 8, 2017

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Desert Explorers Meeting Minutes July 8, 2017

Attending: Bob & Sue Jaussaud, Debbie Miller Marschke, Bill & Julie Smith, Ding & Allan Wicker, Dolly & Jerry Dupree, Emmett & Ruth Harder, Mal Roode, Jay Lawrence, Neal & Marian Johns. Regrets: Nelson Miller, Nan Healy, Steve Jarvis, Steve Marschke, Terry Ogden.

Meeting Opened 11:45 a.m.

Previous minutes: Approved.

Treasurer Bill Smith reported bank checking and savings total $4,426.10 as of June 30. Discussed possible calendar year renewal subscriptions to newsletter instead of subscription anniversary date renewals. We all figured it would cause as much work as it cut so it was dropped. Also covered the idea of lifetime subscriptions and decided against it. The newsletter is already inexpensive so just subscribe for a longer time. Easy peasy. We are sending $50 to the Needles Museum to put our logo on one of the pages of their excellent calendar. We are giving several honorary subscriptions to the MVRM, Museum Lead Pat Schoffstall, DE pioneers Neal & Marian Johns and Crazy Suzy our website builder.

Newsletter The newsletter is running smoothly with quite a few regular contributors. We had a brief discussion on what works well for contributions in terms of text and images. Jay will write up a short recap for the newsletter.

Website Deb reported that she received all the materials to post recent newsletter content. May, June and July will be up on the web shortly. Right now it looks good, runs good and all is well.

(click read more for the rest of the story and photos)

Friday, 15 September 2017 21:57

"Old Dinah" Lives On

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Old Dinah

An article from Westways September 16, 2016 issue sparked some interest from DE’er Julie Smith. A little digging revealed this: “Old Dinah was Borax Smith’s experiment in transporting ore from the mines at Borate to the railroad at Daggett in 1894. Dinah was a traction engine which burned coal – 3.5 tons a day. Her speed was 3.5 miles an hour on level ground, not including time out for getting stuck in sand. On steep grades she slipped backwards faster than she could go forward.

It took four men to keep Dinah running: an engineer, a fireman, a brakeman and a mechanic who worked all night, every night to put her in shape for the next day’s run.

After a year struggle, Dinah was abandoned and the 20 Mule Teams which had continued to haul alongside of her took over the job again.”

Old Dinah got one more chance when borax operations resumed in Death Valley in 1904. Trying to avoid the expense of a railroad into Death Valley, the Borax Company graded a 98 mile tractor road from the borax mines to the railroad. Dinah broke down on her first trip, and had to be towed home by the very mules she had tried so long to replace. In 1910, Old Dinah was sold to a freighter for use hauling supplies between Beatty and the Keane Wonder Mine. After a couple of years, Dinah broke down in the Daylight Pass and her owner abandoned her in disgust. In 1932, Harry Gower rescued Old Dinah and brought her to her  present location in Furnace Creek.

Friday, 15 September 2017 21:38

The Vicki Hill Report

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Desert Explorers at Large

The Vicki Hill Report

Artist, teacher, desert lover and generally keen observer of things beautiful and rare, intrepid DE “cub reporter” Vicki Hill shared a few of her recent findings. Her son Grey spotted this little guy (see photo of the lizard) a few weeks ago in Wonder Valley. Look close!

And then there was 4th of July in Randsburg. Vicki has always been thin, but this might be taking things just a bit too far...

And finally, from Virginia City, Nevada One of the few female blacksmiths. She built the motorized bike from parts. It gets 75 miles on one tank of gas! (This was what she told me when I visited the other day).         ~ Vicki

Friday, 15 September 2017 20:39

2017 - Trip Report - White Mountains Trip

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White  Mountains Trip

Friday-Sunday, July 21-23, 2017

Leader: Ron Lipari

Text & Photos: Ron

The White Mountains trip took a different turn when several folks who had signed up for the trip ended up not being able to make it at the last minute. Mignon Slentz, Glenn Shaw and John Bell ended up meeting on Thursday, June 20 at 2:30 in Big Pine. The temp in Big Pine was 95 degrees and the group decided that camping at altitude would result in cooler temps! So we headed up to Bishop and up to the 4x4 Buttermilk Road to a campsite (altitude 8,000 feet) that the leader and John had camped at before. The snow and rain last winter really rutted out the road. To quote Glenn, “it was a good test of my new 4x4 truck!”

(click read more for the rest of the story and photos)

Sunday, 09 July 2017 08:35

The Quest for White Pocket

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The Quest for White Pocket

Story and photos by Deb Miller Marschke

Last fall in September of 2016, Steve and I decided to go on a noodle in Northern Arizona. It was kind of a last minute, seat-of-our-pants adventure. Ideally, we were interested in an area southeast of Kanab, Utah that is known as Coyote Buttes. This geographic area contains the famous feature “The Wave” which now adorns calendars and art galleries nationwide. We were fortunate enough to get the required permit to hike to the Wave some years ago, but these permits are tricky to acquire and take some orchestration. The Wave steals all the thunder from the Coyote Buttes area as a whole; this geographic zone is a wonderland of sculpted colorful sandstone. We considered the possibility of targeting Coyote Buttes South, but it was still too hot, and we didn’t have the necessary permit. It was too late to get one as they were all booked up.

I scoured my maps for more possibilities. During my investigation, I found promising leads to an area called “White Pocket” so we decided to shoot for that. I cobbled together enough information to get us there, but there was not much on the internet that answered all of my questions. So by design, there was going to be an element of surprise or spontaneity in our endeavor. This geologic area actually overlays the Utah/Arizona border so it’s in two states. We accessed the area by driving south from UT High.way 89, east of Kanab, and left the pavement on The Honeymoon Trail (this is a historic 1870’s Mormon route). You can also select the Great Western Trail as these two trails converge and cross. We hopped onto route 1065 and looked for our access trail. We needed to get into an area called Poverty Flat. We choose the route that began at Lone Tree Reservoir 1079 and cuts in to Paw Hole trailhead.

(Click Read More for the rest of the story and the awesome photos)

Sunday, 09 July 2017 08:27

Desert Cowboy Man

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Desert Cowboy Man

The story below appears in our book Curiosities of the California Desert.  However, we drove by the cowboy man site a few weeks ago and the Cowboy man had disappeared.  No one around to ask what happened.  If anyone knows, we’d love an update

The Cowboy Man of Mecca near the Salton Sea must be lonely, having been placed far from most of his family. As he stands in a small strip mall parking lot, his fate is unknown, as is the case with everything near the Salton Sea which ebbs and flows in the natural and political winds.

   During the heyday of Route 66, a series of these fiberglass figures sprang up as roadside attractions. With growing traffic along the Mother Road from Santa Monica to Chicago, businesses were creative in luring travelers to their stores or restaurants or gas stations. The statues were there to lure business and they were changed to meet the local theme. There is the muffler man, the hot dog man and even the green astronaut man in Wilmington, Illinois which is also known as the Gemini Giant. The first of these oddities to appear was dubbed “Tall Paul” who popped up in 1940s in the suburbs of Chicago.

   Another favorite is arguably a younger version called the Chicken Boy. Standing proudly in Highland Park, California, the 22 foot statue first appeared in Los Angeles atop a fried chicken restaurant between 4th and 5th Streets. When the restaurant owner died in 1984, the Chicken Boy was put into storage. At last in about 2007 the fiberglass boy found a new home at 5558 Figueroa Avenue in Highland Park. Today he towers above the buildings to the joy of passersby.

  These iconic statues were born at the International Fiberglass Company in Venice, California for use in outdoor advertising. Chicken Boy was altered from a Chicken Man that was originally created to be a Muffler Man or Paul Bunyan Man.  His head was altered to resemble a chicken and a bucket was fashioned to replace the hot dog or muffler.

   These statues are familiar sights especially along Route 66, but the bearded Cowboy Man near Mecca seems lost and he has suffered much abuse. He was reportedly decapitated around 2001 and then went missing altogether. But he now stands proudly in front of the El Tompa Mini Mart, enjoying visitors who come to take his photo. His address is 93243 California 111, Mecca.    ~ Alan & Claudia Heller

Sunday, 09 July 2017 08:16

Ballarat by Night

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Ballarat by Night

by Jay Lawrence

So, what do you do when you have a special piece of photographic gear on loan, you need a really dark sky, some interesting foreground possibilities and the only new moon is right around the corner? Obviously, if you are Stan Sholik, longtime Desert Explorer, photographer and author, you head for Ballarat. Never mind that temps in the area are projected to be 120°+ for the next week. Prep the truck and try not to do anything too stupid. A breakdown could be ugly. No questionable rock crawling, no weird trails, just get the shots and stay hydrated.

Crest Of The Inyo’s and Saline Valley Salt Tram

Trip report and photos by Ken Eltrich

First weekend of June our small group met up in Olancha to explore the crest of the Inyo’s and the salt tram that brought salt from Saline valley to Owens valley from 1913 to 1930. After topping off our tanks we made our way to the other side of Owens lake bed to the trail head at Swansea. The road up was not too bad only a couple spots were rocky and loose. The views kept getting better the higher we climbed. The first view of a tram tower was pretty amazing. Once we arrived at the top of the Inyo’s we went left to the Burgess Mine shack for a quick look. The views from there were unbelievable. On one side of the ridge you had the snowcapped Sierra’s and on the other side the mighty Saline Valley and beyond.

No one in our group had been on this trip before so we decided to camp at the Tram Station. In hind sight that was not the best idea as it’s right on the ridge and was windy all night. I opted to sleep on the porch of the cabin so I was protected from the wind but there are several camp sites just before topping out on the ridge that offer good protection and plenty of tree cover. The next day we made our way across the ridge and down into Cerro Gordo mine. We had hoped for a tour but we missed the only one that was given Saturday. We checked out a couple buildings then headed east towards Lee Flat. We spent the second night at the Holiday mine about half way down the mountain from Cerro Gordo. Good place with plenty of Flat area and still in the trees with great views into Saline Valley. Sunday morning we took our time breaking camp and headed towards Highway 190 and home.   ~ Ken

Touring the Santa Ana Mountains

By Bob Jacoby

Photos by Norma and Danny Siler

Our DE tour of the Santa Ana Mountains finally took place on Saturday, June 10th 2017. This interesting adventure was originally scheduled in January, rescheduled for April, and we finally were able to do it in June. The problem, as we are all aware of, was a very rainy winter which prompted Cleveland National Forest to close most of the roads in the area until they perceived all were passable.

Fortunately, June 10th turned out to be a bright, sunny and clear day as the following DE adventurers gathered for this scenic trip: Terry Ogden, Danny and Norma Siler, Jim Watson and Linda Stevens, Matt Jones, Dave McFarland, Neal and Marion Johns, Leonard and Rebecca Friedman, Jay Lawrence and yours truly (if I forgot someone, my sincere apologies). Our meeting place was right off the Ortega Highway near a Cleveland National Forest fire station. Because of a warning from the Forest Service ‘to not have a large caravan” some of us doubled up. The Freidman’s and myself had the opportunity to ride with Jay and his big time truck.

(click read more please)

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