We met up with Bob of Cheap Green RV Living and some other nomads at their camp near Blythe. It was a lot of fun to see other people’s van-car-tent-RV setups and we’re looking forward to seeing more at the Rubber Tramp Rendezvous in a few weeks.
We arrived in the middle of a torrential desert rain but we all made the best of it with some hot tea and when the sun came out we capitalized on it by taking some walks. In the evening, one of our fellow campers even took charge and whipped up a chili hobo stew for dinner.
After we left our desert camp, our next destination was Joshua Tree National Park. I’d never visited before and was excited to see another of our national parks. The weather however was definitely on the chill side—I think Southern California was doing it’s best to remind us that it was still late December.
I must admit that we didn’t get out and hike the park the way we probably should have but we enjoyed it anyway. A friend had lent us a tripod so I experimented with some night photography and braved the chill morning for some sunrise shots.
Back at camp, we tried to read our books in the chill sunshine, made friends with one of our fellow campers at his campfire, and headed to bed early. In the morning, when the thermometer read 15° F, Forrest decided that he’d had enough of the mountains and it was time to head to the coast.
After leaving Joshua Tree, we headed west. Our plan was to spend a few days exploring the mountains to the north of Santa Barbara via some roads Forrest found on Google. Our first attempt at exploration was foiled when the road was gated just inside the National Forest boundary. We spent the night there and in the morning headed to the ranger station in Ojai to make a plan for the rest of our trip.
We settled on Rose Valley as our destination and headed back up into the mountains. At Lions Camp we parked the van and went for a hike while we waited for the morning chill to dissipate. The hike up Lion’s Canyon was pretty uneventful but it was a beautifully sunny day. Sprocket was especially happy to be back on the trail! Back at camp, we tried to read our books in the chill sunshine, made friends with one of our fellow campers at his campfire, and headed to bed early. In the morning, when the thermometer read 15° F, Forrest decided that he’d had enough of the mountains and it was time to head to the coast.
In Santa Barbara, we took Sprocket for a walk on the beach. It was his first time in the Pacific Ocean and he seemed quite delighted—almost as delighted as we were with our Woodstock’s pizza! Later in the afternoon, we took another walk on the beach. The next morning, I went for a run with Sprocket and then we went to the beach. It was so much fun to have Sprocket to play in the water with! Post beach time, we rinsed Sprocket off and headed to a friend’s house for more fun!
Team 3Up was fortunate enough to be welcomed in Santa Barbara by Lyn and her husband. They showed us a wonderful time by welcoming us into their home and plying us with good conversation and drinks—just our style. Forrest even drove us to do some wine tasting. You know you’ve found good people when they’ll join you in your bed the day after you met them in person:
Forrest and I were fortunate enough to be welcomed into a desert Christmas celebration. Someone volunteered to cook us all a lovely Christmas dinner and we relaxed around the campfire all day. Santa even visited!
The day after Christmas we left our desert camp for “Slab City.” Always looking for a fresh adventure, we took a dirt road to Cibola, Arizona and crossed the Colorado into California there. After a brief stop at the Imperial Sand Dunes for Sprocket to play a bit, we drove up to Niland, California and the Slabs.
One of our adventures in the Slabs was visiting East Jesus. East Jesus is an artist community on the edge of Slab City founded by Stephen Russell. Our tour guide was able to tell us some interesting stories behind the art installations in the courtyard and also showed us the “behind the scenes” workings of East Jesus including the community’s library, kitchen, solar facilities, and outdoor living space.
If you’re ever in the Slabs, this is definitely one of the things not to miss! (Be sure to grab a tour. We’re not much for following a tour guide around but the narration on the art definitely added to it for me.)