Danny & Family

Just Some Random Stories About Me and My Family

Saturday, December 04, 2010

The Saturday Morning Post - December

Well, here it is December already, and I just realized two things: I never finished the update of my last post, and I didn't post anything in November. That's just another indication of how busy I am, and what little free time I have. So, belated Happy Thanksgiving to everyone. I spent my Thanksgiving weekend as I have for over 10 years now - in the desert with our off road club, the D.O.M. We had planned to go as a family, but our plans changed when the weather forecast took a turn toward cooler temperatures. Originally, all of us (all of us meaning everyone except Brady - so that's me, Laura, Nina and Jordan) were going to leave for the desert right after Laura got home from work on Wednesday evening, the day before Thanksgiving. Yes, that's right, the heaviest travel day ever! It would have been such a fun drive pulling a trailer in stop-and-go traffic heading the same direction as several hundred-thousand commuters. But we changed plans due to anticipated cold weather, and Laura stayed home with Nina and Jordan. I opted to leave Thanksgiving morning when I knew there would be significantly less traffic - and I was right! But I wasn't alone - I took our dog Jordy with me.

I arrived at Charlie's Place, a popular open riding area for off road vehicles (officially named by the BLM as Wagon Wheel Staging Area) around noon. The club was in the usual spot, and I had an opportunity to get the last front row spot in the circle around the center of camp. The very center of the circle is where we have the nightly campfire. I didn't like that open spot because it was not level, which is probably no one else parked there. I took a 2nd row spot instead. here it the view looking out my front door:
I promise this is the least scenic picture of this post. I have more scenic pictures to share below, that illustrate my adventures over the next three days of our club ride. On the afternoon of Thanksgiving Day, the club had a potluck and we all ate together (in the center area of camp). I was impressed that one of the people coordinating the potluck had everyone wait until all the club members arrived at their tables, and then said some words of thanks. In effect, saying grace.

On Friday, there was a huge club ride to the pinnacles. I've been there before (twice) and it's a very long ride. The other issue for me is that a large group of riders means a very slow ride. Riders of lessor ability and people driving full size 4 wheel drive vehicles (and even some of the sand buggy type vehicles) are not able to traverse the trails as fast as quads or motorcycles. There's also the possibility of someone breaking down, and the whole convoy has to stop. I went the opposite direction - alone - to Randsburg. (In previous years, large group rides to Randsburg are just as slow, but at least the destination has more options for fun and activities vs. the pinnacles). Once at Randsburg, I ate lunch and drank a beer (or two) at the White House Saloon:
Then, it off to The Joint. The Joint is a bar across and down the street from the White House Saloon. I've never been in to The Joint, but I have seen it from the outside. After reading a post from blog friend Sage, I had to check it out to see if Olga was still alive. I am happy to report that Olga is alive, but I didn't get a chance to personally meet her. According to her daughter, who was tending bar during my visit, Olga is doing fine for a 99-year-old. She said Olga no longer tends bar, but does visit often, and planned to come down later in the day. I drank a couple of beers at The Joint while chatting with Olga's daughter, who was trying to eat her lunch before the rush came in. The Joint doesn't serve food, but she got take out from the General Store (a few doors down). A few patrons at the bar ordered take out as well. Just as I was finishing up my 2nd beer, a large group of patrons entered the bar, and it was clearly the beginning of the rush. Outside, I could hear more and more motorcycles driving by, and I knew it was time for me to leave. Here's a poor quality picture of the exterior of The Joint:

Note to readers: all of the pictures in this post are taken from a disposable camera that still uses that 4-letter F word (film). The quality of the prints were very poor (in my opinion). When I had the film developed, the store clerk also put the images digitally on a disc, which is how I was able to upload them on to this post. What I found is that when the camera was pointed toward the sun, as in the picture above, the image is poor. There is also a faint line that appears in center of nearly every print, which you might be able to see in several of the pictures below. Next time I'll bring the digital camera from home.

On my way back to camp, I took a few scenic pictures. This first one was taken just outside of Randsburg, looking west towards a dry lake. This is also in the direction of Garlock and Goler Gulch, where I would be visiting the following day looking for Ralph's homestead and Sam's homestead, as described in Sage's Travel Tip Thursday post of June, 2010.

Along the trail back to camp, I came across this old structure:

About half-way back to our camp, I passed through a popular camping area that our club is familiar with, and where we have camped many times before. There is no official BLM name for this site, but it is easy to get to - there's a turn-off from U.S. 395. Our club calls it Schiller Gulch, and it was named by a former club king and queen (that's what the club calls their leaders). My picture was taken from a vantage point showing the entire camping area, and depicts hundreds of RV's. To me it looks like a bunch of white Legos thrown in a grassy sandbox:
I returned to the D.O.M. camp at Charlie's Place safely, and found out that the large group ride took equally as long (nearly 4 hours), moved at a glacial pace, and had one vehicle break down. Sounds like fun to me (sarcasm intended).

Friday night I went out to the campfire for a while. It was pretty cold, and my dog Jordy cried in the trailer. When the people in the campsite next to us began shooting off fireworks (big 4th of July type) I had to go in to keep Jordy calm. He shook for over an hour as I held him in my arms while relaxing in the warmth of my trailer.

On Saturday, the club had a poker run. This is an event where participants ride from one spot to another, and perform a silly stunt which allows them to pick a poker card. The participant with the best poker hand wins. This is actually a fundraiser for the club; members buy an entry card for $5, and the proceeds are divided up between winners and the club. Participants all pick one card (from a regular poker deck) in camp before leaving on the ride. The card picked is noted on the entry card. The group rides to the 1st spot. The silly stunt this time was to take a small plastic ring and toss it several feet to "ring" an orange safety cone. This did not take a lot of skill. The participant then picks a poker card, updates their entry card, and moves on. At the 2nd stop we had to blow up a small balloon until it popped in our face. Things were taking too long, so at the 3rd stop we just drew cards. The 4th stop was back at camp, where we picked our 5th card. As in year's past, I didn't win. Below it a picture taken from our 1st stop. You can't tell, but just beyond the front-most vehicles, the trail drops steeply to the bottom of the hill that we were on. Most of the riders would not have been able to traverse this, so we all turned around and went a back the way we came. In the background is the city of Ridgecrest, and way in the back are the southern most mountains of the Sierra Nevada range:

After the poker lunch on Saturday, I went into Ridgecrest to fuel up my truck. I don't like stopping on the way home to get fuel, and it is much easier pulling in to a gas station without a trailer than with one. Besides, everyone and their brother stops along the way home, and with all the Thanksgiving travelers crowing the stations; I don't want any part of it. After getting fuel, I drove over to the Garlock area to try and find the areas described by Sage in his post. I had re-read his posts regarding the area, and even printed pictures he posted to help me locate Ralph's and Sam's homesteads. I'm not sure if I was successful, but below are several pictures I took of the area that I thought was the right spot.

From what I can tell from the maps I had, these pictures were all taken in the small town of Garlock. My map also showed an area called Goler Heights, but I chose not to try and access it because I would have had to drive off road. Except for my dog Jordy, I was alone, and I was not going to go into unknown areas without someone else with me. These first few pictures are all of one large property with several buildings, and was clearly inhabited by someone. The pictures are in sequence moving counter-clockwise around from the west side of the property to the south (front) of the property along the paved road. There was a well-maintained area fenced in and guarded by a dog. Adjacent to this was a building that looked abandoned, but had a mannequin standing in front dressed as a cowboy, and a large sign on the top of the building that read "Garlock". Adjacent to that was a dirt road leading to other buildings further up the hill. I did not go up the dirt road. The large "Garlock" sign was clearly visible from the road for hundreds of feet away:

I like how the owner wrote "USA" in the chain-link fence:

It's hard to see, but the dog is in this picture below. It's at the fence towards the right (above and to the left of my mirror)

Down the road (west of the above property) about a quarter mile, was another group of structures. These all looked abandoned and run down. In my mind, I could picture a once vibrant desert ranch. These are also in sequence, left-to-right, the first one had a large sign against the building that read "We The People Say Impeach All Of Them":

This structure was further back between the other two:

This structure was on the right, and there was a water tank in back:

Between the two properties I visited, there were a couple of stand alone structures - one on each side of the road. The one on the north side had what appeared to be an outhouse in the back:

The one on the south side of the road was a concrete structure:
I had seen all I was brave enough to explore and decided to go back to camp. We had another potluck scheduled that late afternoon, and I needed to prepare my food. I also wanted to start packing things up, because I intended on leaving early Sunday morning to beat the traffic.

Saturday's potluck was delicious, and I capped the evening off with a few beers standing with friends around the fire. The wind had been picking up since the day before, but now a storm blew in. It actually rained on us, so we all went in to our own trailers and called it a night. I got up the next morning and continued my packing up. I left just after 8:00 a.m. behind some others, and before most of the club. I had no traffic on the way home, and only stopped a couple of times to relieve Jordy. My last picture is taken about half way home, from where U.S. 395 meets I-15. The mountains are the range are the back side (desert side) of the San Gabriel mountains, which I can also see from the basin side of L.A. and Orange Counties:

See you next month on a Saturday morning . . .

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  • At December 05, 2010 10:24 AM, Blogger R. Sherman said…

    The Mojave is a stark place, but even God can bestow beauty in all things. There's a reason he sent his prophets into the desert to speak to them. Only in the desert, do we truly understand the metaphor of "water of life."

    I'm glad things are well with you and yours.


  • At December 09, 2010 12:59 PM, Blogger sage said…

    Sounds like you had fun and I'm glad to hear that Olga is still kicking! That first picture looks familiar, but it's been 5 years since I was there--there are a number of houses and buildings around (as well as the gallows frame for an old mine). It's a ways off the paved road, if my memory is right. I can ask Ralph's widow for directions, if you'd like. Thanks for this post!

  • At December 23, 2010 8:28 AM, Blogger R. Sherman said…

    Call this a drive-by "Merry Christmas!" The best to you and yours for the holidays.



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