Archive for the ‘Ranger Doug Roadtrips’ Category

Joshua Tree National Park–Where Two Deserts Meet

Thursday, January 28th, 2016


Palm Springs is not for me, but the open road is.  The drive out of the LA basin takes one northward to a granitic uplifted and very weathered area we call Joshua Tree National Park.  Last time I cruised by this road it was 114F so I kept going.  This week, I spent four days there exploring, hiking and giving four more talks on my NPS Centennial roadtrip.  Up we go……


This is a climbers paradise.  Very weathered golden granite with these peculiar feldspar seams.  Lots of pocket erosion.


Here is a gremlin emerging out of the ground–Skull Rock.


The desert plants are interesting here a Yucca and a Joshua Tree–cousins which have adapted well to this harsh desert climate.  The Colorado and Mojave Deserts join at Joshua Tree National Park.


My talk at Jumbo Rocks Campground draws about 40 hearty folks–it was about that many degrees in Fahrenheit and windy as it gets.  This is a 40 minute Powerpoint talk I gave for the Department of the Interior and can be viewed here.  When I walked around the campground inviting folks, I encountered two shaved headed young fellows who sported a police-like badge–and it wasn’t a municipality they were representing.  It is not legal to carry concealed weapons in national parks–thanks to the NRA.  Perhaps these boys were heading to Malheur Oregon.


The Chollo Cactus Garden about in the center of Joshua Tree NP.  There are no services in this park–only campgrounds with limited facilities.  The roads are excellent but some campgrounds have many years of deferred maintenance.  The NPS in total has an estimated $14B backlog.  Wow!


Next is Lake Havasu City–where these huge monsters streak back and forth on the lake–you can hear these for miles, even when you can’t see the boat.  One of these was priced at $315,000.


London Bridge seems to be a big draw–the surrounding faux-English town was very, very tacky.  This is actually a reinforced cement bridge faced with about 40,000 of the stones taken from the old London Bridge.


Anybody know what this is?  I’m puzzled–something pivots and/or rotates on the left rod.  There is a crown on the wood and the curve seems to match the radius from the pivot.  The board has two set/thumb screws to adjust height & angle.


Rambling onward and northward on old Route 66, now renamed 95, I follow the Colorado River and when I enter Nevada, the roads become wide and absolutely smooth and straight–the trailer is hardly felt behind me.


The basin and range geology is impressive and is well described in John McPhee’s book “Rising from the Plains,”  the story about Wyoming State Geologist Dave Love.  He was a superlative person–I spent many great times with him and heard stories about his father, John, who was also the subject of a book “Lady’s Choice.”   John would swap horses for Butch Cassidy and received a gold pocket watch from him for his efforts and discretion.  According to Wyoming lore, Butch Cassidy died in 1925 as a used car dealer in Spokane Washington…..and I believe it.   Below is Lake Mohave–administered by the National Park Service.


NPS Centennial Post #3–So Cal

Friday, January 22nd, 2016

Morro Bay Campground

Morrow Bay, California on Christmas eve.  And right on the beach.  I’m heading down the coast from Seattle after house-sitting my house-sitter in Alaska.  It’s nice to be back in the sun.


There are huge fires raging around Ventura so my route takes me east to Bakersfield, then south to the LA basin for the Pasadena Rose Bowl Festivities.  I’m giving three talks at the Convention Center and meeting and greeting the crowds.  Mom & Pop oil wells are still pumping out the crude–at $28 a barrel…..and I’m now driving a mondo-mobile (new Toyota Sequoia getting about 12 miles/gallon) after the FJ Cruiser lost the rear-end.  Don’t believe the Toyota ads that they can pull 4700# trailers.  Love this car–heated leather seats, sunroof, and Siri talks to me all day.

Live on Green

The trailer is man-handled into the convention center and I set up camp alongside a climbing wall and a planetarium.  Actually I’m “camped” at a Holiday Inn about 15 miles south in the Korean part of Rosemead–the hotel is very nice however no restaurants at all so I’m eating TV dinners every night.  Further, this is hotel-central for all the Korean tourists coming to town and they begin their busing around at 6 am–not to waste a bit of the day.

Korean Cell Phones

They’re the masters of the cell phone……note the girl on the right managing two at a time!

Cat City Campground 1

Can’t wait to leave LA–it’s a HUGE city.  So it’s off to Palm Springs and Cathedral City where I meet up with old friends and make improvements to my little trailer.  But look at my neighbors–these motor-homes get larger every year.  And they have pull outs that make them even bigger…….

Triple extension

But you haven’t arrived until your pull-out has a pull-out.  Where will this end?   Stay tuned!

Western Design Conference and Beyond

Wednesday, January 20th, 2016


Oxbow Bend

It’s time to get this trailer out of the shop and on the road.  The interior is complete, she’s polished up and road ready for a 15 month tour of the National Parks for the upcoming NPS Centennial.  Here I’m rolling in to Jackson Hole–where I was a seasonal ranger 45 years ago.


I entered the trailer in the Western Design Conference in Jackson Hole.  Lester Santos of Santos Furniture, did the interior in the Molesworth style.  Lester is the heir apparent for Thomas Molesworth’s Cody Furniture Company who built much of the lodge furniture in western lodges in the 1930s and 40s.  He furnished Camp David and was sold in NYC at Abercrombie & Fitch.

Airstream setee end.

Janet Bedford from Powell, Wyoming painted the interior diorama–move over Michelangelo–this is the Sistine Chapel of Airstreams.

Trailer interior

I used Department of the Interior motifs in the galley.  Italian cooktop but same old ice-box.  Never figured out how propane makes things cold…….

Airstream Door

The doorway is framed by a twisted Juniper–with ersatz rocks and even a rubber lizard.  The limbs return into the round near the bar. We took first prize for mixed media.  A judge later came to me (he holds degrees in fine art and architecture from Stanford University) and told me the five judges needed a unanimous decision for “Best of Show” and some wouldn’t abandon the trailer–so they flipped a coin and I lost to a lampshade–$5000.   Well, it’s time to get some road dust on this thing.  Stay tuned!