I actually don’t care the least little bit about pictures of anything but nature, but to provide some light relief, here are a couple.
To prove how different the deserts of the southwest can be, I have provided some comparison photos.
Here’s something else I found near the Chocolate Mountains. If this looks like a picture of the ground, that is because it IS a picture of the ground. There are two large, fenced areas with signs outside explaining that they are rare geoglyphs. I spent a lot of time walking around the fences trying to tell the difference between the geoglyphs and normal desert landscape, and was never quite sure I had done it. I thoughtfully took many pictures in hopes that the glyphs would be more obvious in the photos than in real life. Alas. They aren't. However, the BLM assures all of us that the glyphs are there.
I did a lot of trike riding around Yuma, and ended up in a lot of cool places. I would take off on a BLM road and ride it all the way into the mountains where it either ended or got so steep and so loose that I couldn’t get traction any more. One of the first things I found was these old basins that were used for sluice mining. How they got enough water to sluice mine is a mystery to me, as there isn’t a whole lot of desert as barren as the desert around the Chocolate Mountains. Nevertheless, there were basins at the top of a cliff, and below the cliff was a wasteland of sand and gravel typical of this type of mining, so somehow or other they found the water.
Very shortly after I took the pictures at Lagoon (like the next day), it started raining on the Oregon coast. And raining. And raining. And then it started snowing in the mountains, which I had to get across. And then there were storms coming everywhere…so I fled south as fast as I could go. I didn’t miss a blizzard in Nevada, though…I had the pleasure of driving 25 mph through a white-out in a motorhome with no snow tires. That was fun. Also, my entire propane system stopped working. That meant no heat, no refrigerator, and no hot water. In freezing weather.
In addition, I couldn’t make any arrangements for propane repairs because 1) I had no cell service, and 2) there was a winter storm warning for the next day. So I got myself an ice chest and a little electric heater and squatted in the Walmart parking lot in Fallon, NV for a few hours, then continued south.
I made it to Yuma in record time and camped on BLM land west of town. I’ve been doing this for a couple of years now, but this year I discovered a bunch of interesting things to see that I had no idea were there.
It seems that the Chocolate Mountains have a long history of gold mining, starting early in the 20th century and continuing through several incarnations after that. The American Girl pit mine, which closed in the 1980’s, is apparently the last of these.
My next camping spot was at Lagoon, south of Florence. It’s pretty hard to beat Tillicum Beach, and in fact, Lagoon didn’t do so. It was pretty in its own way, though. If you walk across the dunes to the beach, you find a bunch of flatness where many people in OHV’s dash around roaring up and down the dunes. At this time, though, they were not dashing (or roaring) in this particular spot because it was nesting season for the Snowy Plovers and so, temporarily, off limits.
On my way from Tillicum Beach to Lagoon, I stopped at a number of scenic places, state parks, etc. The entire Oregon coast is one giant scenic view. These photos were taken near (and at) the Hecate lighthouse.
So at Smelt Sands, I took a bunch of photos of the waves crashing into the rocks. I chose two that I like, but was not able to choose which of the two I like best, so I thought we would have a vote. Generally we here at Vagabond Tourist don’t encourage this sort of thing because, well, you can see how easily it could get out of control with people actually expressing their opinions and stuff. We can’t have that!
In this case, though, I couldn’t figure out any other way to break the tie. Please indicate your vote in the comments. There never are any comments, so I suppose the tie will remain unbroken, but you never know. A single vote could decide the entire race! Your vote will never again count for as much as it does here!
A few miles down Highway 101 (perfect distance by trike), there is a tiny unit of the Oregon State Park system called Smelt Sands. It sounds rather foul, doesn’t it? But it is not foul. On the contrary, it is gorgeous.
Now this is a place worth camping in! It is a National Forest campground right on the bluff overlooking the ocean. You can hear the surf all day and night, and look out your window and see the beach.
Of course I simply had to take pictures of waves on the beach…it is actually quite hard to take interesting pictures of waves. They all basically look the same: a great expanse of beach ending in a great expanse of ocean with lines of waves coming in. You kinda have to have people waving or falling over into the water or something, and my beach buddy (co-pilot Mason) would not go near the water.
We generally don’t do towns here at Vagabond Tourist because the Vagabond Tourist doesn’t really like towns. However, I rode my trike onto the outskirts of Newport and found this nice bridge.
I realize this is a bit abstract. I really liked the ‘wave’ patterns on the beach.
Here we are just south of Newport, and the Snowy Plovers are apparently a pretty big deal. These two Snowy Plovers were just hanging out near each other, and may even be a pair sitting on a nest, although this isn’t supposed to be nesting season. “Nest”, for a Snowy Plover, is a shallow hollow scratched out of the sand.
This is what the east side of the Cascades looks like in Oregon (and Washington, for that matter). There is an informational sign at the spot where I took this photo, but for some strange reason, they didn’t indicate this particular mountain on it, since they were all taken up with the three sisters.
I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking that Imogen messed up the ISO setting and that’s why the sky is grainy…but NO!! THE SKY REALLY LOOKED LIKE THAT!!!!!
Ok, I’m lying. The sky did not look like that, and when I reached the coast, I finally sat down and figured out how I had changed the ISO setting to 6400 and messed up all my pictures. It turns out that when one wildly mashes buttons without looking at them whilst one is fumbling with the camera, it is very easy to change the ISO setting. Which was great, when I finally wanted to change it back.
So there we were, bombing down the highway (US 20) in eastern Oregon, and all of a sudden, I saw this Light of Epiphany through the windshield. Naturally, I did what any self-respecting tourist would do…I fished out my camera with one hand, pointed it in the general direction of the phenomenon, and started clicking away. After wading through a few shots of dead bugs and other windshield debris, I got a more-or-less useable picture. Here it is.
I am trying to drum up sympathy for myself by showing you what kind of hell-hole I live in during the three or four months I am not living on the road. Yes, I am being sarcastic.
I cannot, for the life of me, remember where this is. I think it’s in Utah somewhere. There is something geologically interesting about this pass which I also cannot remember. grr.
The same lingering error that obliterated Monarch pass obliterated most of my photos of this pass, too. And even after it was corrected, there remained this horrible ISO setting that made the sky all grainy and disgusting. Seriously, Imogen. Get a grip.
Leaving Rio Grande del Norte, we drove back over Monarch pass, which is even higher than Wolf Creek pass. Of course I recorded it for posterity, but due to the same operator failure which destroyed my best photos of City of Rocks, I destroyed all my photos of Monarch pass, also. Therefore, I have posted this lovely wild iris as we wave goodbye to Colorado for this season.
Finally, we reached our destination: Rio Grande del Norte National Monument. I had been wanting to see Rio Grande del Norte NM for two years, and now I wonder why. It’s a fairly large National Monument, but there was only one place I could find where the Rio Grande was visible — waaaaaay down in the southern tip near Taos. And (drumroll) here it is!! The Rio Grande! I can tell you’re all as impressed as I was by this awesome sight.