29 December 2014

The Year In Review - 2014

2014 has been a pretty big year for us. Full of travel, work and taking care of family. We realized our dream of living on a sailboat full-time, we spent time with family, we got to explore parts of the States we had never seen before, we bought a camper and we set off in search of our next sailboat. I wonder what 2015 will bring!

Here are some of the highlights from last year...

1 - We lived and sailed on our boat in New Zealand.

Peachgrove Bay, Mercury Islands, New Zealand
Anchored out at Peachgrove Bay, Mercury Islands, New Zealand
In December 2013, we became full-time cruisers in New Zealand and moved onto our Raven 26 sailboat. We had a great time living and sailing on her during the first part of 2014. We sailed 1,290 nautical miles over four months and learned heaps about ourselves, sailing, living on a boat full-time and what we're looking for in our next boat.

You can find links to our sailing adventures in New Zealand here. If you want to know more about how we became full-time cruisers, check this post out. If you're curious what we learned on our shake down cruise, click here.

2 - We sold our sailboat.

Rainbows End, Raven 26
Rainbows End - our little Raven 26
We always knew our Raven 26 was a "for now" boat and not our "forever" boat. So after our time cruising in New Zealand, it was time to sell her. A truly bittersweet moment - read more about it here.

3 - We took a little road trip in New Zealand. 

Hahei Beach, Coromandel Peninsula, New Zealand
Hahei Beach, Coromandel Peninsula, New Zealand
Boats are great, but they do limit what you can see somewhat. So after we sold our boat, it was time for a road trip on the North Island of New Zealand! Click here to see what we got up to.

4 - Scott headed back to Scotland for work.

Iron Age crouched burial, England
An Iron Age crouched burial from a site in England that Scott worked on. 
Scott is an archaeologist based out of Scotland. So from time to time, he has to head back to the UK to take care of work. He's hoping to wind his business down so that we can enjoy traveling by boat and camper over the next few years without work getting in the way.

5 - I did some work in New Zealand.

Setting an alarm clock. Sure fire sign that you're a worker bee.
Sadly, we haven't won the lottery, so we have to work from time to time to fund our travel adventures. While Scott was in Scotland, I did some contract work in New Zealand for a friend. After cruising on a sailboat, it sure was a shock to the system to have to get up every day and go toil in an office. You can read about the differences between cruising and working here.

6 - We stopped working and headed to the States to take care of some family stuff.

Panhandle Marina, North Idaho
Some family stuff came up, so we both headed back to Idaho to spend some time there with Scott's father. One of the hardest things about being an expat is being away from family, especially when the big stuff comes up. Luckily, we had the flexibility to change our plans and spend time where it was important. Scott even managed to sail on other people's boats while he was there which made for one happy little camper. He gets a little stir crazy when he is away from the water for too long :-)

7 - We did a crazy road trip from Portland, Oregon to Ray, North Dakota. 

Blue Mesa badlands at the Petrified Forest National Park
We needed to get from Oregon to North Dakota towards the end of this year. But instead of driving along a relatively straight line, we drove south to California then over to the southwest before heading back up north. Along the way, we visited 15 National Parks, 1 National Preserve, 1 National Historic Site, 2 National Historical Memorials and 3 State Parks!

You can find links to posts from our road trip on our USA page.

8 - We got seduced by tiny campers.

A Scamp travel trailer that we saw in Yosemite.
We got seduced by tiny campers and we ended up buying one! Camping in a tent is great when the weather is nice, but let me tell you, middle age, sleeping on the ground and nasty weather don't really mix all that well. So we picked up a 13 foot Scamp in Minnesota. She's adorable!

9 - We headed off on another crazy road trip in search of our next sailboat.

What will our next sailboat look like?
We're back out on the road heading down south towards Texas in search of warmer weather and a new-to-us sailboat. We're planning on making our way eastwards over to Florida and then up the East Coast. Want to help us find a sailboat or just say hi? Keep an eye on the blog and Facebook to see where we're heading to next! We'd love to meet you - drop us an email, leave us a comment or fill out the contact form on the right hand side of the blog. 

What were your highlights of 2014 and what are you looking forward to in 2015?

Thanks for stopping by our blog - we love it when people come visit! We're also on Facebook - pop by and say hi!

25 December 2014

Happy Holidays

Whatever holiday you celebrate during this festive season, we hope it is a happy one! We'll be having our traditional Christmas curry today (you can find the recipe here), along with our annual screening of Monty Python's Life of Brian. You can't get more festive than that!

Thank you Graphics Fairy for this wonderful image.

22 December 2014

Hello Scamper!

After our road trip from Portland Oregon to Ray North Dakota, I've learned an important lesson. Middle age, winter weather and sleeping in a tent don't mix. After seeing so many adorable tiny campers, we decided to get one too. Meet Scamper, our 13' Scamp travel trailer! 

We picked her up in Minnesota last week. Brrrr! With more snow on the way, we drove a lot of miles to outrun the latest winter storm and are now in Texas to begin the next phase of our road trip - the search for our next sailboat! We're going to start off looking in the Houston area and then make our way eastwards over to Florida and up the East Coast. 

Keep an eye out for Scamper and us on the road and say hi!

Also, apologies in advance - posting and responding to comments etc. may be intermittent. Our computer is still broken and finding an internet connection isn't always easy!

17 December 2014

Going For A Walk With Potato Chips: The Kaibab Trail {Grand Canyon National Park}

When we were at the Grand Canyon, Scott and I walked on part of the Kaibab Trail on both the North and South Rims. At first, when Scott suggested we go for a walk "below the rim" on the Kaibab Trail, I thought he said the Kebab Trail. Turns out I misheard him. Which is a shame, as the Kebab Trail is wonderful. It's a short hike along flat terrain and, if you find yourself getting tired, there is a moving sidewalk you can hop on and off as needed. At the end of the trail, a man dressed in a bright green apron emblazoned with "Mr Kebab" on it, smiles at you and hands you a lamb kebab wrapped in pita bread complete with hummous, sliced onion, tomato and feta cheese. Delicious.

Turns out the Kaibab Trail is a completely different proposition. The trail is anything but flat, you work up a sweat and you're at a very high elevation which makes it hard to catch your breath. Which is why the National Park Service advises that you take salty snacks with you and eat them constantly. Finally, someone has exercise advice that makes sense - they're basically telling you that hiking and eating potato chips go hand in hand. The Kaibab Trail was sounding almost as good as the Kebab Trail!

North Kaibab Trail & Polar Bear Spotting

Do you want to go for a guilt-free walk while eating potato chips, then check out the Kaibab Trail. We started off on the North Kaibab Trail - described as the least visited, but most difficult of the three maintained Grand Canyon trails. You start off 1,000 feet higher than any of the South Rim trails - that's your first clue as to why it is hard. If you're really keen, you can hike all the way down to the Colorado River, but that's 14 miles long with an elevation change of 5,761 feet. Sound almost doable when you're going downhill, but as they warn you, "going downhill is optional, coming back up is mandatory." Needless to say, we just opted to do a small portion of the trail, from the trail head to the Supai Tunnel. A measly 1.7 miles one way and elevation change of only 1,441 feet. 

Sounds easy enough, but going down is always the easy part. I skipped down the trail bundled up in a fleece, hat and mittens while clutching a bag of potato chips.

 We made a brief stop at Coconino Point where we spotted some polar bears. 

After offering the polar bears a few potato chips, I continued skipping down the trail. We met a few people coming up the trail. They all seemed to be sweating and more than a little out of breath. I started to worry a little about the return trip, but quickly put it out of my mind as I had some more potato chips and took in the views.

Finally, we got to the Supai Tunnel. It is pretty much as advertised - a tunnel. After a quick peek through the tunnel, we turned around and headed back up.

And that's when I ran out of potato chips. Walking back up 1,441 feet is such a drag without potato chips. I stopped a lot to catch my breath. And I mean a lot! But I made it. I looked around for Mr Kebab at the trail head for my lamb kebab, but he was nowhere to be found. Very disappointing.

South Kaibab Trail & Mule Spotting

A day or so later, we decided to "go below the rim" again on the South Rim. But this time, it was much, much easier. Four reasons - we started off at a lower elevation, it was a pretty short hike, the elevation change was much smaller and the mule trains were a great excuse to stop and catch your breath. 

We started off at 7,260 feet and hiked down only 0.9 mile to Ooh Aah Point (elevation of 6,660 feet). I thought the views were much better on this portion of the Kaibab Trail, although there were a lot more people on the trail.

The mule trains were so much fun to watch. They use mules to transport supplies, baggage and people up and down from the canyon bottom. The trail is kind of small, so when the mule trains come by, you have to step off on the uphill side and wait for the mules to pass by.

It wasn't long before we made it down to Ooh Aah Point. We spent a few minutes "oohing" and "aahing" before heading back up. I only had to stop a couple of times to catch my breath!

Still no sign of Mr Kebab, but it turns out you can get a really mean baked enchilada pie at the Bright Angel Lodge restaurant. Almost makes you forget about how delicious lamb kebabs are. Almost.

We walked the Kaibab Trail while eating plenty of salty snacks on 9 and 11 November 2014.

15 December 2014

Okay Grand Canyon, You've Redeemed Yourself

Grand Canyon North Rim

The Grand Canyon really disappointed me when I first saw it. I'm not sure what was wrong with me - tiredness, insufficient supply of chocolate chip cookies or just plain grumpiness? Fortunately, the place redeemed itself by Day 2. Which is a good thing, otherwise I was going to have to write some sort of complaint letter to the National Park Service. 

Of course, I'm kidding, but did you know people actually try to demand their money back if they don't get a great view of the canyon due to cloud cover, rain etc.? I think these are the same people who think it is okay to run screaming up to an elk and stick their cell phone in its face in order to get a selfie. Or the people who think the signs saying "stay on the path" don't apply to them. It is probably a good thing we visited the Grand Canyon during the off-season when the park was less crowded. If there had been too many more obnoxious and inconsiderate people around, I think I might have snapped.

Gosh, I'm a little cranky, aren't I? Hang on while I go grab my emergency chocolate bar and find some kittens to play with.

{pause for a snack break - go ahead fix yourself one too}

Ok, I'm back. Things are much better now. So here's what we got up to during the rest of our time at the Grand Canyon.

1 - We went back to the North Rim after a night boondocking in the Kaibab National Forest. (Boondocking = Free Camping = More Money For Chocolate)

2 - We took in the morning views at Bright Angel Point, Scott made scrumptious breakfast burritos for us and then we went for a scenic drive to Imperial Point. Finally, I had one of those "wow" moments that everyone talks about. My belly was full. That might have helped.

3 - We hiked "below the rim" on the Kaibab Trail. Not to be confused with the Kebab Trail. Completely different things. One involves lamb kebabs, the other involves shortness of breath from the altitude. More on that on Wednesday. I bet you can't wait :-)

4 - We called it a day and headed on out towards the South Rim. It is a super long drive between the North Rim and South Rim so we stopped for the night at the Cameron Trading Post in the Navajo Nation. If you ever go there, word of warning, the Navajo Tacos are bigger than your head. Share one. Or if you plan on eating the whole thing yourself, make sure your jeans have plenty of stretch in them. Better yet, wear sweat pants.

5 - The next day we headed to the South Rim. We took Highway 64 into the park. Wonderful scenic drive. Some more "wow" moments. Some great walks along the rim.

6 - We decided to splurge a little and stayed at the historic Bright Angel Lodge in the park. So nice to be right there on the edge of the canyon and even better once all the day trippers cleared out that night. Scott had an amazing baked enchillada pie at the restaurant there. I wished I had ordered one too. Don't you hate it when someone else's meal is better than yours?

7 - We woke up early the next day and took the shuttle bus out to some of the viewpoints towards Hermits Rest. One of our shuttle bus drivers said he saw a bobcat earlier. Another bus driver said the other driver was old and blind and that they were really feral cats. I'm not sure bus drivers should be telling people that their colleagues can't see very well. Doesn't really inspire confidence in the whole letting someone else drive you around thing. Just a thought.

8 - We hiked some more of the Kaibab Trail on the North Rim side. Still no lamb kebabs.

9 - Got up our courage and took another shuttle out to Yaki Point. More views, more walking. 

10 - Said goodbye to the Grand Canyon. It really did redeem itself in the end. I got my "wow" moments. Who knows, I might even come back one day.

And now a note about computers. Or a rant really. Why can't they last longer than three years without imploding? I've had to type this on our iPad without a keyboard and I can't access any of the great pictures of the Grand Canyon that Scott took. okay, rant over. 

See you next time for an exciting post about lamb kebabs and hiking. 

(Exciting might be misleading. It will be more along the lines of a so-so post. But at least there will be pictures as I wrote it before the computer implosion.)

We visited the North Rim of the Grand Canyon on 8-9 November 2014 and the South Rim on 10-11 November 2014.

12 December 2014

Oh Grand Canyon, You've Disappointed Me

Grand Canyon - North Rim, Bright Angel Point
View from trail to Bright Angel Point, North Rim, Grand Canyon
I'm not sure if I'm going to get hate mail for saying this, but the Grand Canyon really disappointed me. It almost seems sacrilegious to badmouth the Grand Canyon. The place is on so many people's bucket lists, so it has to be amazing doesn't it? But, honestly, when we first got to the North Rim late in the afternoon and walked out to to the Bright Angel viewpoint, I felt nothing. I waited and waited and waited for that feeling of awe. That "Oh, my God" moment. It never came. And all I could think was, "What's wrong with me?" Scott seemed enthralled, so I really started to wonder what was wrong with me. Probably nothing a chocolate chip cookie couldn't fix, but I didn't have any of those with me.

We puttered around for a while looking at the views and figuring out what to do the next day, Scott took his usual hundreds of pictures and then we headed off to find a camping spot for the night. Have you done dispersed camping? Maybe you know it better as freedom camping, wild camping or boondocking. Essentially, it means you pitch your tent outside of a developed campground. The upsides are that you have utter solitude and its free. The downside - no shower/toilet block, picnic table and often no fire ring. 

Because we were at the North Rim in November, everything was shut down in the park and outside of the park including the visitor center, restaurants, lodge, campsites etc. You can visit the North Rim during the day, usually through the end of November, or until the first major snowfall when they close the roads for the season. (FYI - the South Rim, which most people visit, stays open all year.) So, unless we wanted to drive a million miles back to "civilization", our options were pretty limited. And that's where dispersed camping comes in. 

Did you know that you can camp pretty much anywhere in US Forest Service land as long as you're 100 feet away from a water source and 150 feet away from a roadway. We found a great spot in the Kaibab National Forest, just a few miles away from the entrance to the North Rim, and pitched out tent. Only problem - it was freezing outside! So instead of sleeping in our tent, we put all of the stuff in our vehicle into the tent and slept in the back of our trusty Pathfinder. While we were warm, we weren't all that comfortable. Kind of reminded me of sharing the v-berth back on our sailboat. I just kept reminding myself that it was free and in close proximity to the park.

I drifted off to sleep wondering if the Grand Canyon would lift its game the next day and finally wow me. Stay tuned to see what happened...

Grand Canyon, North Rim, Lodge
The lodge at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. Everything was shut at the lodge while we were there, except the gift shop. Go figure.
Bright Angel Point Trail, Grand Canyon, North Rim
Trail to Bright Angel Point. It's short - only .25 miles - but they warn you to take it easy if you have heart or respiratory conditions as you climb 200 feet up to the point, which is at an elevation of 8,148 feet. You can read more about the trail and point here.
View of Grand Canyon from North Rim
I waited to be impressed by views like this, but for some reason it didn't happen.

Have you ever been disappointed by a place as iconic as the Grand Canyon? 

We visited the North Rim of the Grand Canyon on 8-9 November 2014.

10 December 2014

Star Wars Geeks In The Desert {Death Valley National Park}

Sunset in Death Valley
Sunset in Death Valley. Or is that one of  Tatooine's suns setting?
If Scott reads this post, he's probably going to make a big fuss over the fact that I used the plural when it comes to Star Wars geeks in the title. He would want to make sure that everyone knows that he is in no way, shape or form a Star Wars geek, a Star Trek geek, a Babylon 5 geek or a Farscape geek. But, you have to ask yourself, how come he knows what a Ferengi is? 

If you're a Star Wars geek, then Death Valley needs to be bumped up to the very top of your bucket list. Because, guess what, they filmed the first two Star Wars movies there! I actually didn't know this until I read our guidebook. Just goes to show you that I'm not as much of a Star Wars geek as Scott thinks I am.

If you've seen Star Wars (and really who hasn't, even if they don't admit it), then you'll recognize this scenery. If might help to imagine little Jawas lurking about with their red eyes glowing. And if your inner Star Wars geek is screaming to be let out to play, then be sure to check out this site which maps out all of the filming locations in Death Valley.

If you're not all that into Star Wars, not to fear, there is lots more to see and do in Death Valley which doesn't require a light saber or spaceship. Here are some of the highlights that we managed to check out.

1 - Taking in the view of the badlands.

After entering the park, our first stop was at Zabriskie Point to have a look at the badlands at Furnace Creek. I think they should call them "weirdlands" instead. Because they're just weird. If you spend too much time looking at them, you start to think you're on some other planet. So different from the landscape I grew up in.

Zabriskie Point is closed now for repairs, so you're out of luck if you want to visit. But, it's a good thing. The edges of the viewpoint and support walls are eroding away. I kept a good distance back from the edge. Scott, of course, walked right up to the edge to take pictures.

2 - Driving through the Artist's Palette.

There really isn't a point in trying to include a picture of the Artist's Palette. No camera can adequately capture the amazing colors that the minerals give to the hills. So instead, the picture above is of the moonrise on our way to the Artist's Palette. Scott got slightly obsessed trying to get the perfect moon shot (and he would say this isn't it), so we never actually got to the Artist's Palette the first time were there until after the sun went down (it's best seen in the afternoon light). So, we headed out the next afternoon for another look and had a wander among the hills. The colors are pretty spectacular, although I think you can find better painted hills in the Gower Gulch. But if you aren't very mobile, or you're running short of time, the scenic 9-mile Artist's Drive out to the Artist's Palette viewpoint is a a great option.

3 - Ogling the Mesquite Flat Dunes.

Nearby Stovepipe Wells you can find the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes. They're pretty much what you expect from sand dunes. They're dune shaped and made out of sand.

4 - Not spending money at Scotty's Castle.

We drove up to Scotty's Castle up in the northern part of Death Valley. It's kind of a mind numbing drive - mile upon mile upon mile of desert. But eventually, you get to an oasis in the middle of the desert complete with a Spanish style mansion. The mansion's namesake, Walter Scott, was a gold prospector and scam artist who duped people into investing in non-existent gold mines. One of the people he conned, Albert Johnson, came out to Death Valley and fell in love with the desert. He and his wife ended up building the mansion as a vacation home. Strangely enough, Johnson and Scott became good friends and Scott lived on the property and was buried up on a nearby hill.

You can take a guided tour of the interior of Scotty's Castle, but it will cost you $15 per person. We just weren't that intrigued by the whole thing to shell out $30 for a tour, so we just wandered the grounds instead, walked up to Scott's grave and did some general poking around. Sometimes you just have to choose where you spend your money.

5 - Eating fudgsicles.

With all that money we saved not spending money at Scotty's Castle, we splurged on a couple of fudgsicles at the Furnace Creek general store. I actually wanted a Dove ice cream bar, but I thought the price was ridiculous, so I satisfied my sweet tooth with a $1 fudgsicle. Sometimes, you have to sacrifice premium chocolate covered ice cream so that you have enough money leftover for beer. This was one of those days. I hadn't had a fudgsicle in ages. They're actually pretty tasty and it reminded me of my mom. She likes fudgsicles. Sorry mom, I didn't get a picture of them.

6 - Hiking around Ubehebe Crater.

A few miles from Scotty's Castle is Ubehebe Crater. It's 600 feet feet deep and one mile across. You can get some good views of the crater from the parking lot, but if you're feeling feisty and fired up from your fudgsicle, then you can take a 1/2 mile walk along the western rim of Ubehebe Crater and check out Little Hebe Crater. If you're feeling particularly feisty (maybe you splurged and had a Dove ice cream bar), then you can continue around the eastern rim of Ubehebe Crater to complete the loop trail back to the parking lot.

7 - Checking out weird salt formations at the Devil's Golf Course.

Salt does weird things in Death Valley, like at the Devil's Golf Course where the salt formations are so big that "only the devil could play golf on its surface." If you're traveling around with a golf fanatic, drive down the 1.3 mile gravel road and check it out. If you're traveling around with someone who could care less about golf, check it out anyway. It's still pretty neat.

8 - Walking out on the Badwater Basin.

The Badwater Basin is the lowest point in North America lying 282 feet below sea level. You can walk 1/2 mile out to the edge of the salt flats.

9 - Finding the chute at Natural Bridge.

It is just a short hike out to see the Natural Bridge at Death Valley - you'll find it about 1/2 mile from the trail head. The 50 foot bridge spans the canyon and is pretty impressive. But keep walking past the bridge and you'll find a really interesting dry water chute. It is hard to imagine what the place was like when water poured down the chutes and filled the canyons.

10 - Exploring the unknown at Gower Gulch. 

Perhaps the best experience we had was hiking through the Gower Gulch. You get to the Gower Gulch from the popular Golden Canyon (and site of many Star Wars scenes!). Other than the rather vague sort of map we saw about the trail at the Golden Canyon parking lot, we really didn't know what to expect. And that's what made it such an adventure! Painted hills, climbing along a ridge, wandering through the gulch itself and scrambling down dry falls. What's not to love?

As a parting gift, I'll leave you with some more proof about the havoc that global warming is creating. Polar bears have been spotted living in the desert at Death Valley! What can we expect next? Camels living in Antarctica? 

We embraced our Star Wars geekiness at Death Valley on 2-4 November 2014.

08 December 2014

Chasing After Tarantulas {Mojave National Preserve}

Does your husband ever slam on the car brakes and scream, "Tarantula!!!"

No? Well, count yourself lucky.

Here's what all the fuss was about. Cute and cuddly, just like a kitten, except with way too many legs.

Tarantula, Mojave National Preserve

Scott was positively giddy when he saw this guy scooting across the road in the Mojave National Preserve. The tires screeched as he pulled the car off the side of the road, he grabbed his camera and ran out to capture the little critter on film. I waited in the car and reassured myself that, while my husband can be a bit of an obsessive nutter-butter at times, at least he doesn't want to have any pet tarantulas aboard our boat. At least, I hope so. The minute he says we're getting a pet tarantula, I'll be getting a wallaby. I'm pretty sure you can litter box train them. (See here, if you need convincing.)

We drove through the Mojave National Preserve on our way from Needles to Death Valley. Have you ever been to Needles? If you're planning on passing through there, here's a handy tip - always check where the railway is in relation to your motel room. If the room seems too cheap to be true, you can be sure its due to one of three things: (1) they're making porno movies there; (2) the majority of the clientele have warrants out for their arrest; or (3) the train tracks are right next to the motel. 

After leaving Joshua Tree National Park, our original plan was to stay somewhere near Amboy on the old Route 66, but all we found were tired old places which were shut for the season, or perhaps for eternity.

Roys Motel Route 66

After a night dreaming of trains chasing us through the desert, we backtracked from Needles and headed through the Mojave on Kelbaker Road.

The Virgin Galactic spaceship had crashed in the Mojave desert a couple of days before we were there, so of course we were on the lookout for the debris scattered about. What we found instead may shock you.

Yes, there are polar bears living in the desert! I just can't get my head wrapped around climate change - icebergs melting and polar bears in the Mojave desert. What's next?

The tarantulas were a welcome distraction from the mystery of the polar bears. Male tarantulas go out in search of a mate during the autumn months, crossing the roads in search of that someone special. Some of these guys might want to be more choosy when it comes to hooking up. After the romance is over, the ladies have been known to kill and eat their mates. Then they go on to have litters of 500 to 1,000 little tarantula babies! Probably more than you wanted to know, isn't it? I don't know about you, but my skin is crawling just now. That's what you get when you spend too much time thinking about spiders - you start to imagine little baby tarantulas are crawling over you. Ick.

Time for a distraction. Here's what you see as you're driving along the road, dodging tarantulas and polar bears.

About halfway along the road, you come across the old Kelso Depot.

Oases fascinate me. You're driving along in the desert and then, all of a sudden, you see green grass and palm trees. 

It's kind of strange to see a railroad running through the middle of a desert. Once upon a time, Union Pacific constructed the railway through the desert in order to access the ports around Los Angeles. Back in the day, trains needed help from extra engines to get across the steep grade west of Kelso, so a depot opened up at Kelso in 1905, along with a post office, housing for railway employees and an engine house. Later, a Spanish Mission style depot with a clubhouse and restaurant was built to cater to train passengers. I bet it was quite the chi-chi place in its day. Union Pacific eventually closed the depot in the 1980s, but it has since been restored and houses the Visitor Center and a museum. It was a great little stop along our drive.

Old Building at Kelso, Mojave

After visiting Kelso, we continued our drive past the cinder cones and lava fields before exiting the preserve at the town of Baker. Wow, that's a crazy little crossroads town. You come out of the barren desert and find yourself smack-dab in the middle of a fairly busy road with motels, gas stations and restaurants. We had gyros, Scott haggled for firewood with an 80-year old lady (she won) and off we went towards Death Valley.

We drove through the Mojave National Preserve in search of tarantulas on 2 November 2014.

Linking up with Bonnie for Travel Tuesday.