Hangin’ in Mojave (1)

CZ20140208164238331We enjoyed yet another gorgeous desert sunset, the low rays showing off the banded hills to our east. Cottontails scurried about in their evening meal search. Wind picked up and promised a gusty night.

CZ20140208104743929Earlier in the day, a strange high cloud formation showed up above Wild Horse Canyon, a harbinger of the changing weather.

Sure enough, the night was orchestrated by furious, snarling desert winds, pounding relentlessly at Howie’s impervious sides to no avail. We lay tucked in, warm, secure, and positively giddy with how comfortable we were.

The new day (Monday 10 Feb) dawned clear but still gusty. We’re thinking about huddling inside Ralph today for a sheltered motor tour. Comfy.

Finally, now that we’re settled in one camp for a while, and I’m getting ever so slightly more healthy, I find that I have the time AND the energy to write a bit. And DANG, I don’t have any photos. I know well from past experience that many of my “readers” are mostly “lookers”, so I don’t kid myself that my prose can hold sway for more than a paragraph or two. Even more reason to launch outward-bound today and pick up some local scenery on my lovely new Nikon V2.

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This is a really nice find for me – very fast focus and next-image time, so it’s great for wildlife and other fast-action shooting. Interchangeable lenses, but VERY compact, maybe the smallest I’ve ever seen. It’s actually smaller than my Fujipix point-and-shoot.

It also shows on-screen what it focused upon (up to 40 zones), so I don’t make too many of those blurry quick-snaps.

The lens I bought with it is a 28-280mm equivalent, 10:1 zoom. Extremely versatile. It was quite pricey ($1000+), but so far I’m delighted.

Mid Hills Camp

First port of call is up the road about 9 miles to the <other> official camp in this area. I say “official” because the Preserve allows camping at any “established” previous-use area, which basically means a fire-ring. The official camps have maintained facilities (toilets, tables, water), and the fire-rings are just that – places where other folks have camped.

Mid Hills is very different from Hole-in-the-wall, but not without its own appeal. It’s more heavily forested, with typical high-desert pinion-juniper growth. You almost can’t call these hardy green super-shrubs trees, but trees they are.

DSC_0196Most of the sites at Mid Hills are sloped and small, and although there are Howie-compatible spaces, it’s definitely not as RV-friendly. Most sites are also surrounded by the tree-shrubs for a cozy, rather than big-view, feeling.

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But one or two are more noteworthy, with vast views into the far distance of the Preserve.

It’s Monday afternoon, and not one soul is in residence.

DSC_0207We wander back toward HITW camp via back roads of random choices, skirting the tall mounds and zig-zagging between the Black Road area and Wild Horse Canyon roads. Weather is spectacular.

DSC_0218At one point, Ralph decides to NOT lock up the rear axle on a diagonal cross-up. Mildly stuck, but putting the front axle into service pulls us right out.

 

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But not before I discover that the extreme angle of the rear axle has caused the driveshaft to rub on the muffler, and the driveline disconnect to partially activate. Some requisite crawling-beneath-the-vehicle is in order….  Seems there’s always SOMETHING to be tweaked or fixed on off-road equipment, and today is not an exception.

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All ends comfortably, safely, and well, as we roll beatifically past boulder-strewn fields toward the banded cliffs that mark the valley where we are camped.

 

 

Lots more to explore around here, it’s a really BIG place indeed. Tomorrow we’ll head farther north.

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