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My Expedition Vehicle & Trailer

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

2016 Expedition Trailer Back in Death Valley

The deserts began cooling off and it was time to plan another trip to visit some of my favorite places. This time I would be testing the trailer's new spare tire carrier, meeting friends for some desert hikes, watch for fighter jets and try out some radio gear. No plan goes exactly as conceived and pleasant surprises always lay in wait.

I left early on a Thursday and used local surface streets to avoid the initial weekday freeway jams. Between the trailer and the 4Runner I carried 25 extra gallons of gas, 25 gallons of water and two full-sized spare tires.

My first stop along the way would be an eerie abandoned facility that started life in 1952 as a USAF radar station located near Boron, California.

It was a cold war Air Force Radar Station first established as Atolia Air Force Station and renamed Boron Air Force Station in 1953. It went through many upgrades for accuracy and efficiency and the station was eventually abandoned by the Air Force and the radar tower transferred to the FAA in 1975.

The complex was divided into a main site, enlisted personnel living area, a married personnel housing area and a radio site. The main site housed the operations buildings, the radar towers, and the backup generators. The enlisted personnel area comprised the enlisted barracks, the bachelor officer's quarters, the orderly room, the dining hall, the motor pool and various support buildings. The married personnel housing area was a small 27 unit housing complex . 

The area outside of the main radar tower was converted into a minimum security Federal Prison in 1979 and was closed in 2000. The buildings have been heavily vandalized.

As the dome of the radar tower faded in my rear view mirror I enjoyed temperatures in the 70's and drove northward across the barren expanses of the Mojave.

After a total of 244 miles I was ready to leave pavement with my first stop at an abandoned mine complex where the exterior walls of the two largest buildings are made up of sturdy railroad ties.

The mine featured an inclined shaft arrangement for extracting the ore

 Some military jets announced their presence with a loud roar but they were moving too fast and away from me to get a good shot. To me it looks like a T-38.

Time to continue on to Saline Valley!

After traversing many miles of dirt roads and descending through South Pass,...

I made my way across Saline Valley to camp near the hot springs.

The next day would prove to be much warmer but the thunderous air show of fast flying jets kept me captivated for the rest of the day!

 The following shots are all of F-18s

My favorite shot! I had to watch carefully for the right moment to capture this image.

As the day got hotter I added some blue tarps to increase the trailer awning's shaded area. 

I also deployed a second 60 watt solar panel and then watched some more jets fly past.

During the air activities I enjoyed some fresh made-from-scratch pumpkin bread given to me by a close friend.

The day ended with angry red-lit skies due to smoke emanating from fires on the western slopes of the Sierras.

Shortly before sunset Alan and Edgar arrived! Mike and his Jeep did not roll in until 11:30 PM

On Saturday I joined Alan, Mike, Edgar and Nancy for two hikes. One was a long climb up an old mining road in Steel Pass and the second was to a little known location of ancient petroglyphs. Some of the pictures have been enhanced to highlight the figures. Please do not ask me where they are located.

The next day I packed up everything and said my goodbyes to my friends both new and old.

 Even the burros came out to wish me safe travels with their patented stink-eye stare.

Heading back up South Pass was a long steep climb. Windy and hot too.

Up ahead it became very scenic as the storm clouds were gathering and the vegetation near the springs were starting to change color.


I decided to stop by another well preserved miner's cabin and get out of the increasingly gusty winds to have a quick lunch. The chances of rain were also getting much better.

As I looked around the interior of the cabin I heard the sound of approaching engines and tires on the dirt road.

It turned out to be a mobile contingent of the group known as the Underground Explorers who I have come across on previous trips. 

They had also stopped by to have lunch and air their tires back up. Soon the air was filled with the sound of a number of small air compressors that sounded like a chorus of bullfrogs on a vibrating platform.

It was getting late in the afternoon and we all had to navigate the last miles of dirt roads before hitting pavement.

I hope that you have enjoyed the adventure and I thank you for riding along with me! I'll be back out in the desert soon and promise many more pictures. Until then stay safe and enjoy the outdoors!