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In early 2011, Sportsmobile Forum member Mac McIntire went out on a limb and planned to set up a group meet in Nevada. As far as I knew this was a first forum gathering to take place in the Silver State. There had been a few other group meets over the past years at various locations other than Nevada, but most were on the smaller size and limited to around 10 vehicles or so. To tell the truth, most forum rallies start out with great interest but dwindle down towards the end. It’s just difficult to get members from all over the US to find a common date to meet up. Mac posted dates and did a little fishing to see if anyone was interested in attending a late September or early October rendezvous. I had my doubts but in the end would be surprised.

This post is long and has several picture that might require long download times. Please be aware that some of the images in this article were taken by some of the group members.

 

Valley Of Fire is a small State Park located outside Las Vegas about an hour and a half north-east of the city.

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The park is not only scenic, it has a combination of good camping with standard facilities for those members needing restrooms, as well as showers.

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Another plus to this state park I found was that the location offered nearby off road trails to suit the needs of members like myself who wished to explore the backcountry. I scoured through all the info I could find on line about this desert location and it looked OK. Apparently there weren’t any wooded areas around Mac’s choice, rather it looked to be all rock and quite scenic from what the internet showed.

My issue was that this place can be hot during summer and although the warmer months had passed, I was somewhat skeptical. I mean Valley of Fire? It doesn’t sound like a balmy resort of any kind. But my guess why it’s called what it is probably describes the red rock formations and not the desert temperatures. Nevertheless I generally visit the desert during the winter months and that was a ways off yet.

Should I go? 

As mentioned I’m not a warm weather person and found it hard to believe that the first part of October would be cool around Las Vegas. At this time of the year around my neck of the woods the high Sierra camps in places like Yosemite begin to buckle down for the winter season and the park closes the higher altitude campgrounds close to October 15th each year. On the other hand this desert meet was set for around the first week of October and my hometown temperatures were still hovering around the upper 80’s or even the low to mid 90’s. Vegas temps are fairly close if not slightly hotter than California’s Central Valley in late September. Yet Mac kept us all updated on the Las Vegas heat and he was correct, the weather did take a turn for the best. A couple of personal friends from the Forum claimed they had planned to attend so I got ahold of my local buddy Don Dunbar to see if he could get away from family life to attend. Several members that attended the 2009 Central California High Sierra SMB group meet were planning to show up and it was going to be nice to see some familiar faces and finally meet others from the Forum.

The trip was set.

October 2nd & 3rd, 2011

Tioga Pass through the heart of upper Yosemite was a good choice in route to the rally. It was dusk when we pulled in to Porcupine Creek CG that night, and considering how packed it was, finding an isolated camp was sheer luck. Still there is no such thing as a private site in a Yosemite Park campground. No big deal, it was a pit stop and I was just happy to get off the road and break out the adult beverages. In the morning we took on the usual cup of espresso to help bring back our vision.

                           (Feel free to click on smaller images to enlarge)

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Tioga Pass is a beautiful road to take. Even though it’s a tourist trap, I highly recommend the drive for those who have never seen it and actually considered it to be one of the most scenic routes in California.

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As a kid Tioga Pass kept me wide eyed when traveling it with my parents. Back in the 60’s it was only about a lane and a half wide in spots. The sheer drop off kept us kids at the windows peering down into the canyon below while my mom yelled at my dad and my dad yelled at the oncoming traffic. We knew to keep our mouths shut! Surprised smile

The Gas Station outside of Lee Vining Ca. has all types of fuel but also has some really good food as well. It’s definitely a stop that does a great job in satisfying a growling stomach.

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The fish tacos are fantastic but the place puts out great sandwiches as well and breakfast is awesome too.

 

 

 

 

Over the 4th we ran a couple of off road trails around Mono Lake on the east side of the Sierra Nevada Range. I’ll post about that area in a separate article.

So just a brief idea of where the trip ended up from Yosemite. While driving highway 120 outside of Mono Lake, there are a few really nice areas I’ve found over the years that have intrigued me and felt were worth exploring. One camp in particular would be the perfect spot to explore the area and then cut the long drive to Vegas in half rather than attempt to make it in one day.

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This camp is a fantastic spot and from now on I think it will be a stopping point I’ll use when traveling out of California towards Nevada. Being time wasn’t a factor, it seemed a good idea to explore the local area around the lower end of the south eastern end of the Mono Lake backcountry.

Off to Nevada:

The plan was to pick up highway 95 and camp at Mount Charleston outside Las Vegas but it wasn’t to be. As I dropped into Indian Wells I figured it was time for some fuel before the steep grade up to the Charleston area. The drop into Indian Wells is kind of a steep grade so when pulling into one of the few service stations I was surprised to just fly right through it with no brakes! Opening the hood and looking at a mass of “engine” didn’t help. These things are so packed I couldn’t even easily see the belt. Nothing looked out of the ordinary, so I just closed the hood and planned for a tow. It was getting dark and the nearest dealership was in Las Vegas so we looked for somewhere to stay. Nice sunset at least.

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Don decided to stay in the dumpy motel across the street but to avoid the bed bugs I decided to stay in the parking lot with the SMB. Besides, I had a lot of equipment in the van and this place didn’t look like a spot I  wanted to leave my vehicle unattended. I think  Don probably got better rest than I did. No bed bugs and at least he wasn’t subjected to Jake brakes rattling the windows. The highway was an annoyance until the sun came up the next morning.

The Dealership:

I was happy to find internet service and help quickly came from several forum members shortly after I posted I had an engine problem. At least I had some kind of a clue about the good and bad places to take the van for repair even though my tow service didn’t give me much of a choice on what dealership it was going to. I had a couple to choose from and I took the better of the two on Mac’s advice. One thing for certain, I stayed clear of the Casino before the tow arrived. Luck didn’t seem to be on my side.

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The tow arrived fairly early but it was still a long drive to the shop.

Pulling into Las Vegas: 

Things at the dealership didn’t exactly go the way I wanted it to. It was going to be a full day so we hung around the shop which didn’t please Don at all. Then toward the end of the day I got the bad news…”we have to order a part”. It looked like it was time for a rental car. How could it get worse? Let the griping begin…a Jeep Patriot and it was more like a 2-wheel drive car dammit. Not my choice of vehicles at all and who ever used it before I picked it up smoked like a chain smoker. On top of that, because we had planned to be at the meet early to do some off roading before the rest of the group arrived, that plan appeared to be squashed. Adding insult to injury, heavy rains came in and flooded Vegas. It was strange seeing such heavy rain is a desert location but thankfully the high temps were kept at bay so at least something went right. On the way out of town I hit a Wally-World to pick up a cheap blanket and sleeping bag. The Jeep didn’t just smell bad, there was what looked like dog hair all over the back and I wasn’t about to use my vans bedding in that thing. And to think I was worried about bed bugs back at that crummy motel. In retrospect I should have just bought a cheap tent… I guess I was just rattled.

Off to V of F in a Jeep Patriot:Storm cloud

A feeling of relief came to me pulling into the Valley Of Fire camp…yes, even in the smelly Patriot. Anything is better than a hotel IMO and at least the little Jeep had room. We pulled into camp and set up for the night but the rain was in a state of constant downpour, so we held off for it to break. Reuniting with a few old friends was nice. Ford_6L_E350 (Mike), Yahkir’s (Henry and Kathy), Bettyford (Ron) and Mac were there. I had previously met with everybody except Mac, so it was a mix of old and new. I had to thank Mac for the help he provided getting my van to the shop. The rain never let up and setting up Don’s tent was a bit of a challenge. Less than a minute outside and we were soaked. Don’s tent was actually floating at one point in time and we had to move it to higher ground.

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By now I was tired and ready to relax. The heavy rain finally turned to showers and let up for a while as the sun set. Funny how fast the ground sucked up the water.

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We ended the night in the Jeep drinking as the rain returned drenching the camp once again. It didn’t take long before I was ready to call it a night. But I didn’t get too much sleep. Talk about a sardine can…my 300 pound six foot body just didn’t fit very well plus I couldn’t leave any windows down far enough to get a good air flow without the rain soaking me. Sleeping in an ashtray made the vehicle difficult to breathe in, and it was actually nice to get out for the call of nature for some relief from the stale cigarette leftovers. Hopefully I would only have to endure one night in this thing. Sorry to be sound negative but it was funny to lay there and think of Pink Floyd’s Breathe. I enjoy a good cigar but I’d never smoke in a rental vehicle. It’s not mine.

During the night the skies cleared a bit and the rain finally ended.

Back to the meet in a real vehicle:

Oct-6-2011

Getting up early wasn’t an issue at all. All I could think about was getting my van back. We made some espresso but kind of figured there wasn’t much of a hurry to get to the dealership. The parts were coming in that morning and the van was scheduled to be done by noon. The sun was doing its best to burn through the cloud cover, but the temperature was fantastic. We had a good talk with the members after the campground sprang to life.

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                        (An early morning shot of Mac’s & Mike’s camp)

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                   (Ron’s camp)                                    (Ron’s bike hauler)

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                 (Mike showed up)                                 (A little bull session)

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                                        (The sun finally came out)

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                                         (Mike biking to the showers)

The showers were down the road a ways at a campground that was more suited for the big RV’s. Why the state put outside showers at the camp that allows big RV’s which usually have built-in showers was beyond me. But Mac made a good choice placing us in more scenic surroundings and I felt happy to be away from all the noisy generators.

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Mac reserved the lower loop but the larger upper loop was by far the most scenic and a few members like Jeffery had a great spot. The point was to keep the group together and Mac made it work.

I want my van back:

Heading into town I was told by the dealership it was going to be a wait. Lovely! I didn’t need to get the Jeep back until about 4PM so we hit a Mexican restaurant down the road that surprised us with really good food. After lunch we went back to Ford and waited for the van. Not that I wanted to rush them but the thought of another night in that Jeep wouldn’t be good for my pocketbook or sleep. I thought Dunbar was going to go nuts waiting for the shop to make repairs. I had my PC to keep me entertained but Don isn’t a surfer and being the magazine rack at the dealership was lame there wasn’t much to do. Stuck in Las Vegas with nothing to do is almost a oxymoron. It makes for a long day when you don’t have a thing to do but hang out and for once I wished there was a casino nearby. As I looked around, all the other folks waiting for their vehicles to be repaired had their heads stuck in their smart phones. It’s kind of a weird change in the characteristic of modern man that seems to be growing more and more. Smart phone. Seems like it wasn’t too long ago that phone booths were a common site but they are quickly disappearing. People are gonna start having neck problems cause looking around in that room all I saw was everybody hunched over looking down at their little hand held phones. It has been strange watching this develop over the last few years. After a few hours even I thought the internet was getting old and I got tired of hearing it would be just one more hour before the van was fixed. What a long day.  Finally a mechanic took the van out past me for a test drive. The vacuum booster had failed and boy did the dealership nail me for the repairs. Stick it to the Out Of Towner I guess. At that point I didn’t care.  I was thrilled to get rid of that Jeep and was stoked driving the van into V of F. Let the good times roll.

It was nice pulling back into the State Park in my 4×4.  I set up my van and later made the rounds that night as several more members had come in while we were in Vegas. We all had a good time that night as the drinks flowed and many members gathered around a fire. After getting my fill of adult beverages and laughter I headed to the van for what I would hope to be the first real night of sleep. The previous days had taken a toll and it didn’t take long to slip into a dream state. It sure felt like I was back home. That night I was awaken by an owl who gave out a traditional hoot that made me almost jump out of my skin. I don’t know if it was the rock formations funneling the sound or if he was sitting on top of my van, but it was LOUD! As I dozed back off I recalled how nice it was to have the van back and I looked forward to the next few days.

Oct-7-2011

I got up well before the sun rose for a few pictures.

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It was nice to wake up in the camp as the skies came to life. Fresh air and a beautiful sunrise started the day off giving me an uplifting feeling. We made a make shift breakfast with the usual triple shot of espresso that jolted me into reality as we prepared for a day of off road travel. Exploration… it’s the best part of a trip IMO.

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        (Angel’s “bat mobile” in the foreground and Woodbee’s van behind)

Later on Angel stopped by with some of her special coffee mix. How could I turn down another shot of the good stuff. 

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                                         (Viejo’s camp-Bill & Sherri)

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                                          (Unique rock formations)

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                                        (Mac signing up Angel)

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                                       (Ford_6L_E350-Mike’s camp)

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Bill on the front left, Janna and Jeff (jlsenge) with their dogs and Paul & Tina (Oldbonesclimber) at the right rear and Kathy & Henry on the left in the background.

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             (Woodbee-Woody and Cheryl walking down to join the group)

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    Henry & Kathy left out early so Paul & Tina took their spot across from us.

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                   (A unique Tear-Drop of some non-SMB campers)

Hitting the trail:

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                                           (The Muddy Mountains)

I really didn’t know if anybody wanted to do a group run so we just took off and explored on ourselves. What a beautiful place. The trail leading into the Buffington Pockets area was supposed to be rated as scenic and I was told it was fairly easy as far as off roading goes. Luckily the Buffington Pockets/Bitter Springs trailhead is very close to camp.

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I really didn’t know what to expect and the start of the run just traveled through the flat uninspiring desert. But the hills were approaching quickly and what was to come would be much more than I what I thought would be.

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Crossing a few washes it was obvious nobody had been in there after the rain storm.

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The trail isn’t marked by very many signposts but the first half of the route is easy to follow.

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As soon as we reached the base of the hills the trail changed as far as the rating.

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It became more and more rocky. It was also pleasing to see some greenery around.

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It wasn’t tough by any means but slightly challenging. I would say that this route requires what any standard SUV has as a standard 4×4 package although there are areas of sand that can pose problems with vehicles equipped with street tires.

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Most Sportsmobiles that have a limited slip differential should be able to do the route in 2WD and there are spots where high clearance is appreciated on the longer extended bed vans. Of course weather can change the trail’s condition at any time. I wondered what the heavy rains had done the day before, and in the back of my head I figured it was possible to find the trail washed out somewhere along the route.

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                    The first section is a slight climb but nothing too steep.

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This was one spot where a lifted vehicle and having the correct tires paid off. But it was short lived. There was water standing in spots from the storm the night before but no mud, just sand.

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There were some nice rock formations but I thought this was somewhat interesting.

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This man made structure is called the Dam. It was built to form a small reservoir that was used in conjunction with mining the area. Buffington Pockets has a lot to offer if you take the time to walk around. We just didn’t have enough daylight to do any exploring on foot.

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This is what would be considered “the pass” before dropping into the Hidden Valley area.

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                               Here is where the colors popped out.

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Now I don’t know if camping is allowed or not, but we dropped into a great area to boon dock at.

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                   This was an awesome spot and could hold several vans.

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                                This looked like some kind of sea monster.

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                                       The colors were awesome.

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                                                  Snow? Unreal.

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                             The sandstone of this area was fabulous.

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            The trail dropped into a valley that was void of the red sandstone.

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                              This little wash was flowing the day before.

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                                         A splash of desert color.

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   The path meandered up and down before coming to one of the most difficult spots.

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                   It doesn’t look like it but this section was a little steep.

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                                                 And off camber.

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                                 Climbing out of the wash was a bit loose.

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  The trail was slightly less than inspiring here but allowed us to make up some time.

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               The trail became narrow but remained a well established route.

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                         We entered  the Hidden Valley area and Echo Wash.

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         Following the wash was very cool and probably my favorite part of the trip.

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                               This area was highly scenic as well.

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                     The views from here of the valley were spectacular.

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Back into the final wash. At times it was so wide the route was difficult to judge. Because the water had cleansed the prior trails left from other vehicles, we were on our own. At one point in time Don (who was in charge of navigation) claimed I was on the wrong side to the wash. No big deal , I took a sharp 90 degree turn and traveled 100+ yards across the wash to the other side. No trail there either. I wondered if other vehicles would follow our path or continue to trudge through the sand as we had been doing all along. I was happy to have four wheel drive here but the sand was wet and I rarely engaged it. There were several areas with water as deep as six inches. I was just waiting to drop into a mud hole but it never happened.

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There was a vehicle pulled off to the side of the trail which meant pavement was probably close by. Now there were tracks to follow but who knew where he came from.

We crossed several other trails, some marked, some not. We did make an incorrect left up one wash but quickly recovered. Having active GPS was crucial.

         By now the sun was setting and I was happy to see the end of the trail.

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                                                     The highway.

The plan was to swing down to Lake Mead to grab some ice but it was a futile mistake. It’s one steep drop to the lake and by the time and seeing everything closed was a huge disappointment. In my world ice is about as important as fuel. Damn!

What happened to be the most scenic part of the day was the sunset which put on one hell of a show as we drove back toward camp.

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It was pitch black driving into the Park and after I set up for the night it was time to move into the evening mode, hanging around the campfire at Angel’s. It wasn’t long before Craig and Cindy showed up and were able to squeeze in next to my van. It was hard to see during the nighttime hours but several other members had finally showed up that day while Don & I were out off roading. The camp was buzzing a bit more with activity than the day before.

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                                         The fire was at Angel’s camp.

Oct-8-2011

Another beautiful morning came and after the sun was up, it wasn’t long before  the members began to mill around.

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                                       (Ron was cookin up breakfast)

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                         (Paul, Andrew and Ernie flipping me off) Surprised smile

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                                                 (Mike & Andrew)

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                                              (Don, Craig & Cindy)

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As the morning lingered, Mac wanted to get the members together for a group photo. He also had some home brewed awards to give out. Mac really had this meet planned out. I had also contacted members about doing some off roading so the plan was after the group pictures, everybody would split up and go exploring or head back to camp. Several were wanting to check out Buffington Pockets while others either wanted to explore the State Park or just hang out and relax.

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                              Mac announcing the awards he was giving out.

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Being a professional photographer, Jeffery was the obvious choice to set up for the group shot.

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Rob & Ning on the left. Dick and I assume his buddy on the right with Javier & Luz in the background.

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The prize given to the forum member coming from the furthest distance to the meet was won by Javier & Luz who came all the way from Mexico. Andrew is from Europe but traveled from Oregon and was certainly in the running. But I wasn’t sure if he was out on the road traveling in other parts of the country like a few others members were before showing up to the V of F meet. I received an award for having the most equipped van but feel Mac was just feeling sorry for me because I had so much trouble getting there. There were a few highly equipped vans at the meet besides mine.

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Javier looked happy. Although some members had left and there were a few late comers yet to arrive, it was one big gathering as seen below.

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                                         (Jeffery’s group shot)

I have to give Sportsmobile West a hand for supplying all the members SMB T-shirts.

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We all headed over to Atlatl rock for the group vehicle shot. There were some strange looks from vehicles and people we passed by. It was definitely an awesome drive.

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                                       Jeffery telling me where to go!

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                                                (Luz & Javier)

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                  Craig & Cindy checking out the Petroglyphs at Atlatl Rock.

 

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                  Keith in front of his big Sprinter. The guy is a kick in the ass.

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Jeffery was one brave dude standing on top of the bathrooms. The vent was close by!

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                                       (Claudine, Marka, and Joe)

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                                         CJ (Chris & his wife)

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                                            (Jeffery’s group shot)

Time to off road:

As mentioned, the night before several members showed interest in doing the same trail Don & I had done. It was getting late and I wanted to get going. Don and I knew how long it would take to run the trail but at least I wasn’t going to be pulling over to take a thousand pictures like the previous day plus having tracked my path the day before there wouldn’t be any confusion on the trail. I figured it would go quicker the second time around.

Some of us needed fuel so that came first.

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There is a quick mart not too far from the State Park along I-15 that supplied fuel, but ice and brews were also on our minds.

I’ll rephrase that, ice and beer were imperativePointing up 

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After supplies were had by several members, we pulled up to the clan situated at the start of the trail.

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I had the idea of following up from the rear so I could get in some good pics but Jeffery was adamant that I take the lead being we had just ran the trail the day before. OK it just made sense so I pulled up front to lead the pack. Joe (JFB) and his wife Marka were right behind my van. Being new to the off road world, they were a little hesitant about what they were getting into especially being second in line. Their van was a new addition to the family and although I think they had some exposure to off road travel, I understand the feeling of taking a brand new shinny van into the unknown. I had assured them that the trail was 2WD worthy all the while feeling that I might not be coming clean with the whole truth. But these rigs can do much more than some might think and what better time would it be to cut your teeth on an off road adventure while running with the pack. Break down on the trail and there are 20+ people there to help you out. But like line of people jumping off a pool’s high dive for the first time, one might feel better in being close to last in line over having to follow the first person off the diving board into the abyss. Tongue in cheek, I followed up telling Joe something like… “Nah, a car could do this trail” while doing my best in keeping from laughing out loud. Sure it wasn’t a real technical trail but it’s not a standard well kept forest service road either.

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As we waited for the final members to show up, the typical bull sessions were going on.

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At least Craig and Cindy looked laid back. Years back I had pulled the same stunt on an OHV route about making them think the trail we were going to take was a cake walk when in fact it wasn’t. But they both had come to trust me on the trail difficulty… well kind of I guess.

It was time to move down the road to reach the official start of the Bitter Springs Trail.

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Final count and one was missing. What happened to Kelly? He was fueling up when I was at the mini-mart. We all were a bit worried and talked about sending someone back to see if Kelly or Claudine were having issues.

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Hum, what was Cindy doing? Giving me a ticket? All I can say about her little message was that it was supposed to be inspiration… err, I think!

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Finally our last member was seen approaching the wagon train. Kelly got held up by the masses standing in line paying for supplies and fuel. I had to admit, if Don hadn’t gone in to grab the ice and beer when I was fueling, we would have been right behind Kelly. What a circus. That place must make a fortune off travelers.

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Finally we were off on an adventure with the largest group of vehicles I’d ever been with. I didn’t feel the need to take as many scenic pictures being Don and I had been there the day before and concentrated on group shots.

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Ernie captured this image of Andrew, Joe and me crossing some rocky terrain. At the end of the run Joe and Marka claimed they were a bit uneasy seeing some of the boulders we had to climb over but they both just watch my van and followed the same path and driving my methods to get through it. After a while trailing me they both felt totally confident of their new vehicle. In fact Joe and Marka took turns driving the route. A smart move in my opinion. If for some reason you’re in the backcountry and are injured, your passenger better have the skills to drive you out.

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We found a nice spot to pull over that provided members an opportunity to get out an explore.

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             Heading up to get a view of the area was on the minds of a few.

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It was time to hit the trail. Every pit stop had to be taken into account even though we were actually there at the same time as the previous day.

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Pulling into the spot I thought would make a great place to boon dock at along the trail.

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                                      All of a sudden we had visitors.

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As the Forum members gathered by the camping spot, the plan was to let the Jeep Group pass our slower vehicles. It was a perfect spot as the trail split making for an easy bypass.

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The Jeep club were somewhat surprised to see such a large group of big vehicles on the trail. We exchanged greetings and told them what radio channel we were operating on. They seemed like a great group of people and it was interesting seeing another caravan on the trail.

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Traffic cop Ron was giving us the go ahead to head out but I had a hard time figuring out his hand signals.

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      It looked like there was water flowing through the wash here a few days prior.

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Time to fill out bellies under a bit of overcast. Graciously the Jeep Club called us and asked if we wanted to join them for lunch. We could see them off in the distance but they had made some good time and were quite a ways away.

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I thanked them but explained we didn’t want to hold them up. It was the last we would see them.

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Snapping the whip, Jeffery suggested that we get moving. I had to agree and didn’t want to get back as late as the night before.

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Finally we made it to a spot I saw the day before and thought it would be a great lunch spot. Funny how this side trail happened to be the total length of our convoy.  We had already ate lunch but it was still a perfect spot to get out to stretch our legs.

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From here we entered the main washes of the trail. I had wondered how close the Jeep club would follow my previous days trek. Where I had jumped to the other side of the was the wash approaching and sure enough all the Jeeps made that same hard 90 degree turn across the sand to the other side I did the day before. I had to laugh.

The rest of the trail was shortly coming to an end. I do wish I had been further back for more pictures as it wasn’t high on my list to capture the same views I had taken the day before. We never pulled over until making it to the highway.

Time to get out and reflect on the days adventure which was a good one in my opinion.

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Proof that a SMB can make it in two wheel drive was put to the test by Dowgars. Dick was having trouble with his hubs and did the whole route without the aid of four wheel drive. Ah, just expert driving I’m thinking.

Time to head back to camp:

Pulling into the home base I found a couple of members had shown up and one had left. Unfortunately Mac had fallen ill and had to leave out. It was an unexpected loss for sure and I’d wished I could have said goodbye before he left out. Mac put such a good forum rally together it was a shame he had to head home early. But a couple of members took his place and it was nice to finally meet them.

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Both Ron (Tapitio) and his wife showed up. She sure put that oven pictured in the right to good use. Fresh baked goods at a SMB rally went over nicely.

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My good friend Tom (Zeta) also showed up and shared Mac’s camp with Ron. Both of these members would have ran the Bitter Springs Trail with us if time would have allowed and I was sorry they couldn’t make it to the rally earlier. Of coarse they had more time on their hands than what Don and I had left being we needed to leave out the next day. Finally I was realizing that the trip was coming to an end.

As evening settled, I finally set up my 7” Maksutov telescope commonly called a Mak. Ironically I had brought the Mak for Mac to check out but unfortunately he’d have to miss out this time. Maybe another day Mac. At least several members were able to take a look and I have to say the skies were pretty good even though Las Vegas wasn’t too far off.

The big fire was at Angel’s again and we had Mike to thank for bringing his trailer full of wood to make it possible.

Valley of Fire Meet and Greet by Mac 

This picture was taken by Mac the night before he had to leave out but just goes to show you how the members enjoyed what Mac put together. And no, that’s not an anomaly Mac caught on his camera  but some of the members who were drinking might have been seeing aliens the night before and the last evening was no different. I know I had a good time.

Oct-9-11

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Once again I got up early to grab a couple pics. Then I quickly headed back to sleep.

VofF camp

                          Ron captured a wonderful shot on our last day.

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As the sun broke into daylight I was sorry it was time to head out back to California.

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                                      (Southern Ron & Northern Ron)

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                                    More new members showed up.

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                                             (Bannedfromtheparty)

Although Mac did a great job catching pics of members, I did grab a few of my own. I sure wish I could have got everybody but sometimes it’s hard to do.

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Both Dunbar and I had camped with Andrew but last time he didn’t have a van back then. Not any more and he was putting his awesome home build to good use.

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              Bandfromtheparty had a really nice van that they showed off.

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Scotty and Maria’s van was a work in progress but sure stood out with the beautiful blue color.

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                         Dicks van and teardrop trailer was highly equipped.

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Rob and Ning were another couple I’d camped with in the past and Ning’s pot luck was a big hit at this meet.

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            Joe and his Marka were both a treat to have a little off road fun with.

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                                              Saying goodbye to Mike.

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                          And it was time to wish CJ a final goodbye as well.

On the way out we grabbed a few pics of the local area we should have paid more attention to. The area is truly beautiful and I’ll look forward to a visit again one of these day.

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                   I mean how can you not want to re-visit a place like this.

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                          Heading back we encountered Scotty and Maria

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We both pulled into a spot I’d seen before but never made the connection exactly where this place was located. I don’t think they knew where or what this place was either.

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Now I found out what the Extraterrestrial Highway was all about and never even knew we were on it until we pulled into the Little Aleinn. Interesting to say the least being we were so close to Area-51.

Back in California we were treated to an unexpected weather condition where we had camped prior to heading towards the Valley of Fire meet.

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                                                     (Snow!)

Actually it was a welcome treat but wondered if highway 108 was closed for the season. We still had some time to explore and indeed took a few other trails in the area but I’ll post that trip in a later posting. We finished exploring the backcountry around Mono Lake… here is the link to that trip report:

Around Mono Lake California

Summary:

OK, things started out great and then turned to bad, but eventually it ended up being one of the best adventures I’d taken to date. In a time of need the SMB Forum members and Mac went beyond expectations to help me out so I make the meet. It’s amazing how when you’re in a bad situation how friends can pull you out of a hole and turn things around for you. Meeting up with old friends was great but finding new ones put the icing on the cake. The off roading was exceptional and I do wish more members could have joined up but everybody had a good time doing their own thing which is to be expected. There was a common bond made at this place that can never be taken away as proven by our group picture Jeffery took…I’ll never forget it. Thanks Mac… you da man!

 

For another look at the Valley of Fire rally, click on the link below.

SMB Forum V of F trip report