Video

Remote Toroweap

Toroweap is on the north rim of the Grand Canyon, but with more than 60 miles of dirt road to get there, it provides an uncrowded and remote experience, especially with 100º August daytime temperatures. The National Park Service describes the services available at Toroweap: “there is no water, gas, food, lodging, or phone service.” But the lack of crowds (there were none when we arrived) and the spectacular views of the Canyon made it well worth it.

We left Highway 389 west of Fredonia, AZ and drove County Road 109 across grasslands for 40 miles before entering the National Park. Recent rains had kept the grass and sage and piñons green and happy. The road was smooth, graded dirt which is negotiable with any truck or car. Of course if the road is wet, all bets are off.
We left Highway 389 west of Fredonia, AZ and drove County Road 109 across grasslands for 40 miles before entering the National Park. Recent rains had kept the grass and sage and piñons green and happy. The road was smooth, graded dirt which is negotiable with any truck or car. Of course if the road is wet, all bets are off.
After driving 20 miles within the Park, we passed the Tuweep Airstrip and Ranger Station. Soon after the ranger station, the road begins its slow degradation from smooth dirt to not-so-smooth dirt and rocks. The closer we got to the rim, the more plentiful the rock gardens. Bring your high-clearance vehicle.
After driving 20 miles within the Park, we passed the Tuweep Airstrip and Ranger Station. Soon after the ranger station, the road begins its slow degradation from smooth dirt to not-so-smooth dirt and rocks. The closer we got to the rim, the more plentiful the rock gardens. Bring your high-clearance vehicle.
Campsites at Toroweap come with a table and a nearby spotless pit toilet. There are no firepits since all fires (including charcoal) are prohibited. Steve does not make eye contact.
Campsites at Toroweap come with a table and a nearby spotless pit toilet. There are no firepits since all fires (including charcoal) are prohibited. Steve does not make eye contact.
Our campsite #8 was fairly well hidden, but with the lack of other humans, it mattered little.
Our campsite #8 was fairly well hidden, but with the lack of other humans, it mattered little.
The view to the east from our campsite. At night we saw an orange flickering glow, far to the east. A couple days later we found out that we were looking at the Stina Fire on the north rim of the Canyon, some 50 miles east of us, and 23 miles southwest of Jacob Lake. The fire was caused by a lightening strike on July 26.
The view to the east from our campsite. At night we saw an orange flickering glow, far to the east. A couple days later we found out that we were looking at the Stina Fire on the north rim of the Canyon, some 50 miles east of us, and 23 miles southwest of Jacob Lake. The fire was caused by a lightening strike on July 26.
Our campsite view looking south toward the Canyon in late-afternoon sun. Early evening temps had cooled off to around 90º, so we decided on a tasty cold chicken salad for dinner. We also had cold watermelon which remained chilled and non-consumed in the ice chest.
Our campsite view looking south toward the Canyon in late-afternoon sun. Early evening temps had cooled off to around 90º, so we decided on a tasty cold chicken salad for dinner. We also had cold watermelon which remained chilled and non-consumed in the ice chest.
Because we can.
Because we can.
Two river rafters approach Lava Falls in the early morning. The falls is rated a Class 10, meaning it is the highest degree of difficulty in the Grand Canyon, falling 37 feet in a few hundred feet. Rafters only pretend to be in control.
Two river rafters approach Lava Falls in the early morning. The falls is rated a Class 10, meaning it is the highest degree of difficulty in the Grand Canyon, falling 37 feet in a few hundred feet. Rafters only pretend to be in control.
Zooming back from the rafters, the view southwest toward Lake Mead and Las Vegas.
Zooming back from the rafters, the view southwest toward Lake Mead and Las Vegas.
Canyon visibility was hazy due to wildfire activity in California. This applied to Colorado and Utah visibility as well. And really, isn't it always California's fault?
Canyon visibility was hazy due to wildfire activity in California. This applied to Colorado and Utah visibility as well. And really, isn’t it always California’s fault?

Video: Total Solar Eclipse July 11, 1991

The decision was made. Drive 1,000 miles south, to the tip of Baja to watch one of the longest solar eclipses ever: totality for six minutes, 53 seconds. The sun’s shadow traveled over Hawaii and then Baja California — most eclipse fans opted for traveling to Hawaii (which was overcast during the eclipse).

Eric and I camped near Punta Colorado on Baja’s East Cape to wait for the noon event. We’d done our homework on what to see, what to expect, but nothing prepared us for the sensations during the eclipse: much cooler, a noon-time sky with stars, and dusk 360º along the horizon. To say “surrealistic” would be an understatement.

Ahhhh … 1991 VHS quality!

Video: B-17 Wings of Freedom Tour, Torrance

Dad went up in a B-17 for the first time in 70 years and 29 days, on the Wings of Freedom Tour, out of Torrance Airport. The last time he was on a B-17, he was carried off the aircraft in England after a piece of shrapnel went through the airplane, his helmet, then his foot (his foot was resting on his helmet). Today’s flight turned out much better; the flight was magnificent, and without shrapnel.

Video: COPS Racing TT#50 Fuel Stop

The COPS Racing Trophy Truck receives fuel at the BFGoodrich pits near Race Mile 747 (La Purisima) in the 2012 Baja 1000. Fifty miles down course from this pit, #50 would lose two engine cylinders (listen to the engine sound at the pits). Driver: Dan Martin.

Video: Death Valley, Eureka Dunes, Steel Pass, Saline Valley Rd.

Starting at the Eureka Dunes in Death Valley, we drove through Steel Pass and out of the park on Saline Valley Rd., stopping briefly to see naked people. Saline Valley Road had been recently trashed by heavy rains, transforming it from a smooth, graded dirt road, into a genuine 4×4 experience. A seriously fun weekend.

Video: A Cal City Weekend

Debauchery in the high desert with a near-crash and a crash, Federal Penal Colony #52, a rattlesnake in our toy hauler, Cuddeback Dry Lake, the Husky Memorial and lunch in Randsburg (where Huell Howser  dined). Four minutes of your life which you’ll never get back.