Desert Camping

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.

Sprinter at sunset
Sprinter at sunset

 

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.

Talking with our neighbors over tea.
Talking with our neighbors over tea.
Communal desert dinner
Communal desert dinner
Sprinter in the desert
Sprinter in the desert

 

Joshua Tree National Park

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.

Van at Joshua Tree
Entering Joshua Tree
A simply beautiful road.
A simply beautiful road.

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.

A first attempt
A first attempt
Joshua Tree sunrise
Joshua Tree sunrise
Joshua Tree sunrise
Joshua Tree sunrise

 

California Rambles

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.

Highway 38, California
Highway 38, California

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.

Forrest and Sprocket in Lion Canyon
Forrest and Sprocket in Lion Canyon
On the trail
On the trail

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!

Looking north from Lion Canyon
Looking north from Lion Canyon

Santa Barbara

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:

Lyn and me on the classiest wine touring bed ever.
Lyn and me on the classiest wine touring bed ever.

 

Christmas in the Desert

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!

Baby wipes! Just what every van dweller needs!
Baby wipes! Just what every van dweller needs!
Vandweller's Christmas
Vandweller’s Christmas

Sprocket even got into the Christmas spirit:

Sprocket displays some high Christmas fashion
Sprocket displays some high Christmas fashion

Arizona to Slab City, CA

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.

Cibola, Arizona
Cibola, Arizona
Sprocket swims in the Colorado River
Sprocket swims in the Colorado River
Imperial Sand Dunes
Imperial Sand Dunes
The boys
The boys

Slab City: East Jesus

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.

The Revolution Will Not Be Televised
The Revolution Will Not Be Televised
“Definition of a grievance” (2009), Joe Holliday
“Definition of a grievance” (2009), Joe Holliday
Decorated car
Decorated car
I love this little dude.
I love this little dude.

 

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.)