March 25 – April 7, 2019.
Recently someone on one of my traveling Facebook groups asked the question, “How do you decide where to go?” She was just beginning her journey and felt a little overwhelmed by all the incredible destinations out there.
I was feeling a bit of this when we got back from Mexico. Where to go next? East, north, west – there was so much I wanted to do in all directions, I felt a little overwhelmed myself. After some thought, I decided to take the same advice I gave to the Facebook querier and pick one really great thing and then see where the route along the way takes you. After some discussion, Greg and I decided that that thing would be our friends, Beth and Tom, who lived in Clearlake Oaks California – almost 1000 miles away from where we were staying at our friend’s Julie and Jason’s in Tucson, AZ.
Planning the first few stops was easy. We had a friend, Terry, who was camping in Quartzite, AZ that we hadn’t seen for a while. He had just been reunited with his lovely fiance, Marcela, who had just arrived in the US from Peru. We had a good evening with them, trying not to leave Marcela too much out of the conversation by speaking a little broken Spanish every now and then.
Our next stop was also to meet up with friends – new friends, Lisbet and Mark, who were camped out in Lake Havasu City. You can read about them in our last post. From Lake Havasu City, AZ we followed Lisbet and Mark up to Lake Mojave, NV for a few days before we parted ways in different directions.
We continued north stopping at Seven Magic Mountains. I had seen this site out the van window as we had passed by on the highway last year and had made a note to stop next time around.
What next? I wondered if there was a National Park in Nevada that we needed to visit. I consulted my National Park app and sure enough, there was – Tule Springs Fossil Beds. Greg loves rocks and fossils and the site was along our route. But where to stay nearby? I looked at some of my usual camping resources and only came up with high elevation sites – too cold! I went to the Tule Springs’ website and checked their “Things To Do” link. There I found three suggested public lands sites for camping. I checked each of them out for proximity to our route, elevation (warmth), and cost of camping (free) and the Desert National Wildlife Refuge checked all the right boxes – bonus they had a great visitor center and more fossils!
From the NDWR we needed to start heading northwest towards the California border. I used a couple of different apps for our next couple of destinations – Atlas Obscura and Roadtrippers. Both apps are excellent for finding weird and interesting stuff and one or both of them led us to The Goodwill Open Air Museum where I also found the ghost town of Rhyolite.
From Rhyolite we just needed one more place to stay before we did the last long trek to Clearlake Oaks. I pulled out my camping app, iOverlander, and websites, Freecampsite.net and Compendium.com, to find the best spots. I came up with two – a longer drive to Walker Lake in Nevada with a shorter drive to Clearlake Oaks the next day or a shorter drive to Kern River in California with a longer drive to Beth’s house the next day. The Kern River site would mean an almost all day drive to our final destination but after we looked at our weather app Kern River won out for warmth.
After 11 days we finally arrived at Beth and Tom’s. It is always wonderful to arrive at a destination – especially if you have welcoming friends at the end!
* Click pics to enlarge and/or open into a slide show.