French Camp Campground – A quiet campground

Camping in the High Sierras is not as easy as it once was, however this fact offers one the ability to explore and remove oneself from their comfort zone.  French Camp campground was the result of just this fact for me and as result, I found a little gem in the High Sierra.  

Fishing Rock Creek at French Camp, High Sierra, CA
Fishing Rock Creek at French Camp Campround, High Sierra, CA

On our last trip, we planned on visiting and exploring the High Sierra.  Immediately, we planned on returning to Convict Lake.  Perhaps Lake Mary or Twin Lakes Campground in Mammoth Mountain however all of these campgrounds where sold out for our time period. I did not want to relocate our campsite during the course of our trip.

Each campsite had quite a bit of room and the undergrowth was such that you did have a bit of privacy. There was a lot of trees to offer shade on a warm June day. Each location had a table and fire ring. The soil is sanding and this old campground has quiet a bit of soot and charcoal mixed into to it from years of fires. This could mean an interesting and frequent clean up period with children.

The flush bathrooms were centrally located and cleaned on a regulate basis. Rock creek ran along the northern side of the campground and allowed for easy creek access for fishing.

French Camp , like many High Sierra Campgrounds does have California Black Bear from time to time. During our stay, there was bear activity. One report had a bear come into camp while a family was having dinner. This bear apparently helped itself to several rolls while the family looked on.

French Camp Campground is just one a string the campgrounds along Rock Creek. The campground host at French Camp was a very personable man, who did a great job keeping the place clean and greeting the campers.

Mojave Mound Cactus ( Echinocereus mohavensis )

The Mojave Mound Cactus or Claret Cup Cactus boasts a bright red - orange flower blossom.
The Mojave Mound Cactus or Claret Cup Cactus boasts a bright red – orange flower blossom.

The Mojave Mound Cactus ( Echinocereus mohavensis ) is a cactus of many names and it also known as the claret cup cactus, hedgehog and kingcup cactus. It is native to the desert southwest of the united states and parts of Mexico. The cactus can be found in a variety of habitats including rocky slopes, scrub, low desert and mountain woodland.

This is a small barrel shaped cactus, which will range in color between light green and bluish green stems. As the name implies, this is a mounding cactus with may form up to 500 cylindrical stems with create a bulbous mound. This low lying cactus only grows to about 16 inches in height, while is clusters of spines can grow up to 1.5 inches long.

The funnel shaped waxy flowers range in color from orange to red to a dull scarlet color. The plant is commonly found at altitudes of 3500 to 9000 feet in elevation. This beautiful little cactus is known to locate Joshua Tree National Park, the Mojave Desert and parts of Nevada.

This delightful specimen was found in the spring on the Pine Nut trail about 50 miles outside of Las Vegas, nestled among from boulders.

The Amargosa Opera House

Recently, on a whim, my wife and I loaded up the jeep and opt to just explore the desert West of our home town of Las Vegas and ended up at the Amargosa Opera House. Our original idea was to drive to the winery’s in Pahrump, Nevada. After the winery our plan was to drive up to the townsite of Johnnie, Nevada. The best laid plans were for not. We discovered that the mines of Johnnie, Nevada are located on private property.

The Arargosa Opera House is located in Death Valley Junction, California.
The Arargosa Opera House is located in Death Valley Junction, California.

Honoring the wishes of the Johnnie mine site property owners, we opted to do some exploring. We headed easy through the small town of Crystal, Nevada and drove past the Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge. The AMNWR was closed, as the result of, a Government Shutdown.

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My introduction to Ham Radio

A family friend of mine has long been an advocate of amateur or HAM radio. Growing up, I remember distinctly going to his house and seeing his home HF radio set. Before the time of computers, his radio dominated the room and all of the dials, microphones and keys reminded me of Dr. Frankenstein laboratory. When I was about 10, my father loaned me a testing manual to get my HAM license. I simply recall the book was very thick and there was a lot of wiring diagrams in it. This was a bit intimidating to me and the requirement to learn Morse code quickly stopped any ambition that I had to get my license.

Skip ahead about 20 years, and I found myself working for a video game development company. There, I had to good fortune of working with some of the smartest people whom I still call friends. Three of them had their HAM Technicians License which allowed privileges on the 2M ham band. At the time, I didn’t even know what that meant, but they quickly informed me that the license no longer requires you to learn Morse code.

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