Before turning in on Saturday night we pulled in the living room slide because the wind was tearing at the topper awning (there is an awning that extends over the top of the slide out room to keep dirt and wet off of it). It is fixed to the slide out so the only way to retract the awning is to pull in the room. This makes the interior even more cozy than normal while camped. Sunday morning was bright windy and cool. We drove the 16 miles to Mitchell Caverns and bought our tickets for the 10 AM tour. This entails a mile and half hike, including the caverns and the views as we climbed to the cave entrance were wonderful. The entrance is called the eyes of the mountain. Both Carol and I thought it looked more like the nostrils.
We returned to Gee 2 for lunch and to decide what to do with the rest of the day. There was no vote for sitting still and listening to the wind. We had heard about a lava tube that it was possible to climb into and explore so that became our objective. This lava tube was formed when the lava flows from the volcano stopped and the remaining hot lava flowed out of the tube leaving behind an empty shell of cooler solidified lava (this is NOT a scientific explanation which would take a textbook). This area of the Mojave has 34 cinder cones the most recent of which is a very young 10,000 years old. The area is not an “improved” visitor site and thus there are no signs. The directions, in part, are after you find the unmarked turnoff from the highway proceed 4.8 miles up an unmaintained dirt track past the corral with the water tank. At the second corral bear left then look for a wide spot to park and follow the beaten path (over cinders) to a hole in the ground, actually the second hole is the entrance. Amazingly we found the way to the entrance and climbed down into the tube to marvel once again at the power of nature. To see pictures click here.
By this point we had done a lot of driving and the gas gage was getting below half. In the desert this is not a good idea and we were “only” 25 miles from the nearest gas station in Baker, CA. Baker is primarily a line of gas stations and road food joints off I 15. We bought gasoline at an exorbitant $3.799. The next day we filled the motorhome tank at $4.179, now I know how to spell gouge. The price was less further from the highway, but still over $4.00. Returning to Gee 2 cost almost ¼ of that new tank of gas.
The forecast was not improving. We were expecting snow above 4,500 feet (campground is at 4,200) and high winds to continue or get worse. For a third night we pulled in the living room slide and turned in to the sound of howling winds and the coach rocking as the gusts battered us. In the morning the ground was covered with something white! We are 3,000 miles from Rochester and the snow has found us! Since we had nothing loose outside, getting ready to leave was a simple as putting the bikes back on the car and stowing the rug under our entrance (held in place with a large rock). Instead of two more nights in in the high desert we headed for Needles, CA and a civilized campground with water, sewer and electric hookups and maybe as important access to NPR for news. The Needles KOA was actually no more pricey than its neighbors and it offered shaded sites. Here we are.
We have already driven to Oatman, AZ which is on the historic alignment of Route 66 and is a line up of more tourist trap shops than even Gruen, TX. It also features many wild burros wandering the streets looking for handouts. The burros are descendants of the miner’s burros from the gold fever days. This town was the center of the Gold Highway and was a movie site in How the West was Won. Now it is a large tourist shop that closes up at 5 PM. There is no place to stay and the food options are road food lunch at best.
Tomorrow we move to Boulder City, NV another short road day, so I can fly to Rochester on Wednesday and return on Friday night.