June 9, 2017 Bend, Oregon

Journey's End ???

Journey’s End ?

Today was to be my second day of driving the entire 60 plus mile Denali National Park Road on my Professional Photographer’s Road Permit, but that was not to be.

The Road to McKinley
The Road to McKinley

I have been stationary in Bend, Oregon since April 27th undergoing testing and then treatment for Myeloma, an incurable cancer of the blood.

Denali Grizzly
Denali Grizzly

Instead of shooting grizzlies in Denali, I am camped on the Loop Road of the Saint Charles Hospital Campus, while being treated as an outpatient at the Bend Medical Clinic and had waited until I had completed my first round of chemo treatments before I wanted to write this post.

While this is an incurable disease, it is optimistically classified as a “controllable” cancer, with some folks surviving a decade or more. At this point, that is obviously the outcome I would prefer to see. My response to the first three drug therapy round has been favorable and I am on  a game plan that hopefully will bring about remission and the opportunity for a stem cell transplant , perhaps as soon as in August. Just have to wait and see.

Where initially I was told I would have to stop traveling to battle this condition, they now are telling me that if I make a successful recovery from a transplant, it is completely possible that I could resume my full-time travels and could have periodic testing done to monitor my status while on the road. So my best case scenario is that I could be back on the road before winter sets in here in Bend, Oregon.

And of course there is also the very definite possibility that things may take a turn for the worse, but at this point I am cautiously optimistic and will keep you posted .

Since this blog was started four years ago to share my adventures on the road, and since I won’t be doing any traveling for the next several months, blog posts will probably be few and far between for a while.

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March 7, 2017 Salton Sea, California

Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area
Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area

A Brief Stay along the Salton Sea

Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area
Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area

Monday morning, I reluctantly broke camp at Ogilby Road, now one of my favorite all-time boon docking spots, and headed west to the Salton Sea. Route 78 west takes you through the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area, a mecca for dune buggies and four wheelers.

Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area
Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area

A Single Digit Salute to Caltrans Employees

In the image above you can just see a tower and what look like some buildings at the peak of the highest sand dune. As I drove the motorhome closer, I could make out a couple large RV’s with trailers parked up there and then noticed a sign indicating that there was an observation point up there. A wide paved road appeared to the left of the highway that takes you to the top.

Now normally, when I am traveling with the Prius in tow, I am very, very, cautious about driving up this type of road, always being afraid there may not be room to turn around since I can not back up with the car on the tow dolly. But since I could see the two big rigs already up there, I decided to risk it to get a bird’s eye view of the dunes below.

Big mistake ! About half way up the very steep two lane paved road, the road was completely blocked by a good two feet of wind blown sand! So, there I was, unable to proceed, and also unable to back up, and absolutely no way to turn around. My only option, unload the Prius, drive it down the hill, then back the motorhome and unloaded dolly down the very steep incline. As most people reading this probably know, backing a small tow dolly behind a large motorhome is something you always wish to avoid.

About the time I got the motorhome down to the bottom and managed to get it turned around, a Caltrans work truck pulled in and parked just a few feet behind me, but leaving me room to be able to get the Prius loaded, once I walked back up the hill and drove it down. This was now around 9:30 AM, and the lone state employee carefully avoided making eye contact with me as he lit up a smoke and I went about my business. A few minutes later, a large dump truck with snow ( sand ) plow attached pulled in and parked next to the first truck at the bottom of the hill, I imagine waiting for me to retrieve the Prius and get out of the way so he could begin removing the sand blocking the road.

Now you could probably guess that I really wanted to ask these guys why someone could not be bothered to put out some barriers blocking entrance to this Oobservation Point Road or at least put up a temporary sign indicating that the entrance road was impassable and thus closed. I wanted to, but I restrained myself since, who knows, they may have been somewhere else doing something more important.

By the time I had the Prius reloaded, two other tourists driving pickups had pulled off the highway to drive to the top. The guy in the plow truck, now about half way through the sand blockage, obviously saw these folks waiting to drive to the top, yet for some reason stopped his plowing and backed down the hill to join his chain smoking buddy in the first truck … for what apparently was coffee break time ! Too bad for anyone wanting to get through the blockage, whether those two vehicles at the bottom or the vehicles at the top who were also trapped and waiting to get down.

After all, a unionized government employee of a super liberal state undoubtedly has his priorities, and serving the public most likely sits at the bottom of that list.

OK, sorry, rant over, but this incident really did tick me off. This just happens to be the first time in four years of full timing and traveling with the Prius in tow, that I did have to unload to get out of a situation like this, and this should never have happened.

Corvina Beach Campground, Salton Sea
Corvina Beach Campground, Salton Sea

Corvina Beach Primitive Campground

This was my primitive campsite for two nights at the Corvina Beach Campground on the eastern shore of the Salton Sea. Campground is probably overstating it since it is essentially just a wide gravel parking lot with some picnic tables and fire rings, along with a few trash barrels. No water or dump on site, although you are allowed to use the facilities a few miles north on Route 111 at the main campground free of charge if you are staying here. Camping fee is $10 or $8 for a senior.

Despite the highway running closely parallel to the campground and a busy railroad track running on the other side of the highway, I had a couple nights of blissful sleep here under dark starlit skies. The trains were fairly heavy during the day, but I never heard one pass at night. I actually enjoyed my two nights here and would have stayed longer if not for the weather forecast … temps into the 90’s here at an elevation of 200 feet below sea level, so I had to head to higher ground, a few thousand feet up in Joshua Tree National Park.

Niland County Park, Salton Sea
Niland County Park, Salton Sea

Several years ago, when visiting Anza Borrego for desert flowers, I drove east to check out the western shore of the Salton Sea. I remember discovering a very depressing site where  obviously many grand dreams had gone to die. I always wondered if perhaps there was a more pleasant story over on the eastern shore. Turns out there wasn’t.

The image above was taken at the Niland County Park and Boat Launch, obviously abandoned years ago, although the state highway signs on Route 111 still stand that announce a campground out here ( there isn’t one ). Another Caltrans neglected duty?

I drove south from where I was staying at Corvina to check out the Wister State Wildlife Area, without a doubt the most depressing, neglected wildlife area I have ever come across, then proceeded a little farther south to the Sonny Bono National Wildlife Refuge, also not exactly a place I would want to revisit. This is a very neglected part of the great state of California and I suppose it’s just as well I’m only passing through..

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October 9, 2016 Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

Just a quick post to let you know I haven’t disappeared but am traveling in an area with all but zero chance of a Verizon signal and not a lot of convenient WiFi hotspots to visit. Since my last post, I have been to Antelope Island in the Great Salt Lake, spent a week at Capital Reef National Park, and then moved on to Bryce Canyon. Am leaving Bryce today and heading for the North Rim of the Grand canyon, yet another area with no Verizon signal, so it will still be a while before I can get caught up with posts.

I have gotten more than a few decent shots of red rocks in these recent travels so stay tuned … I will eventually find an internet signal again!

August 22, 2015 Dawson City, Yukon

Blog Posting Update

This quick post is just to let readers know that I am still here, just have been unable to do any posting for quite a while due to a variety of reasons, mechanical problems, complete lack of internet access while on the Top of the World Highway, a potential disastrous demise of my tow vehicle ( blow out while towing, no injuries or anything like that just possible total loss on the Prius ), and now that I am safely here in Dawson City at the Bonanza Gold campground, a WIFI connection that is just way too slow to even contemplate uploading images ( at $41/night, I pulled in here because of their large WIFI sign out front, poor choice as it turns out). I should get word on whether my Prius is salvageable this afternoon, but it looks like I will be stuck heer a while with no internet access for a while if it can be repaired so blog posts will be impossible to do for a while yet. Please be patient with me, I have some wonderful scenic shots from the Top of the World Highway as well as Caribou shots.