Mid Hills Campground, Mojave National Preserve

Located in deep in the heart of the Mojave National Preserve there is an abundance of campsites to suit everyone.  The Mid Hills campground was an after thought on a recent trip in March, 2018, however the location and charm of this spot make it a new favorite destination.

Mid Hills Campsite in the Mojave National Preserve March 2018 after a rainstorm.

Mid Hills Campsite in the Mojave National Preserve March 2018 after a rainstorm.

In March 2018, I decided to take my son on our first father and son camping trip, just the boys.  We scoured maps and picked destinations and points of interest.  He was very excited to hike the Ring Trail and we opted over-night at Hole in the Wall campground.

I picked him up from school with the Jeep loaded and we drove down Nipton Road deep into the isolated areas of the Mojave.  We arrived at Hole in the Wall campground and with the sun starting to set discovered that the campground was full of motor homes and jeepers.  No place to camp.  We opted for ‘Plan B’ and headed north.

 

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Goffs, CA

Originally known as Blake, Goffs, CA is a small unincorporated community located off of Route 66 in the Mojave desert near the Piute Mountains.  Originally named for Isaac Blake, builder of the Nevada Southern Railway, the town was named Goffs in 1902, when it served as a railway stop, and housing for the Santa Fe Railroad.

Goffs, CA

Goffs, CA

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A fish is for those who do.

 

Fishing Rock Creek at French Camp, High Sierra, CA

Fishing Rock Creek at French Camp, High Sierra, CA

As a boy growing up, I was fortunate enough to spend a great deal of time in the High Sierra mountains.  When I was about five years old, I learned to fish in Lone Pine Creek under the watchful eye of my grandfather.  We left camp one afternoon and walked about 50 feet to a small pool next to our campsite.  My memory of this event has faded, but my recollection of the event is that I quickly caught my limit of Rainbow trout within about 30 minutes and returned to camp with a full stringer of fish.  I recall my grandfather recalling later that it was the “damnedest thing”, and surely proof of beginners luck.  Time embellishes all tales, and true with fish stories the facts of the actual event may no longer support the tale being told.  It is true non the less that I had beginners luck!

For the next fifteen years or so, my parents, brother and I would spend a great deal of time in the High Sierra, or other camping locations.  My brother and I perfected our fishing technique in the high mountain lakes and streams.  We did not always catch our limit, nor did we have a desire to harvest more than we could eat that day, but we often had fresh trout for dinner.  Eventually, our camping trips became further and far between and my interest in fishing waned as the cost for a licensed increased.

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Bodie and Aurora rivalry continues in the modern era, what is the true distance between the ghost towns?

Two towns located in the hills above Mono Lake maintain an unofficial rivalry that continues even now, long past their demise.  Bodie, CA and Aurora, NV boomed with the gold rush of the 1870s and busted just years later when the gold ran out and faded into history.  Miners, merchants, and people would undoubtedly moved either direction between the two cities and with good fortune would undoubtedly talk down the previous city.  Such is human nature, but why would this rivalry continue long past the demise of both towns?

 

The Standard Mill, Bodie, CA. Photograph by James L Rathbun

The Standard Mill, Bodie, CA. Photograph by James L Rathbun

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The Green Gopher

Growing up in the 70’s I learned and spent a lot of time camping, hiking, being outdoors and active.  Every spring summer and fall, my parents and I would load up the truck, and later the trailer and head out.  Typically preparations would start the week before departure, and the loading process would start on Thursday afternoon with my brother and I hauling all the gear into the yard, while my mom packed the vehicles.  Friday could not come soon enough and when it did, my dad would come home from work, change is clothes, wrangle up two kids, maybe a dog, adjust the mirrors, and exclaim “We’re off” as we drove out of the driveway.  For the most part, for my family nothing much has changed much from my dad.  It is however the details that matter.

In 1972, I was one year old and to celebrate my dad bought a new truck.  Details of the vehicle back then are scare.  From my point of view, my dad previously owned a 1964 International Scout.  He drive this car for years all over the desert south west in the late 1960s.  When my dad married my mom, my mom made him sell the Scout because the breaks were horrible, and at least three times they failed completely.  It was a wise decision considering the stakes for the family at the time, but the loss of his beloved Scout was difficult and for decades despite its faults the Scout cast a long shadow in our family.

Returning to 1972, my dad decided to purchase his truck.  He chose a Sea Foam Green 1972 Ford F-100 pickup sporting a 302 inch V-8 sporting with a 3.2:1 gear ratio, two fuel tanks, and a four speed manual transmission which included a “Granny Gear”.  The extra costs of a four wheel drive were not an option for my dad at that time.  So, the truck became the “ultimate compromise”.  He opted for 2 wheel drive, but to offer improved traction he chose a four speed with granny gear.  The differential was geared up to offer improve gas mileage, but the little 200 HP V-8 could not pull a grade at any sort of highway speeds.  A camper shell, home built bed, pass-through rear window and the “green gopher” was complete for the initial incarnation.

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