Taco Grande: Heading East in a Covered Wagon

November 10-15, 2015

Twenty thousand years ago lava flowed through this area north of Ridgecrest, California. Ancient floods from the Owens River then carved canyons through the lava field sculpting both sharp and smooth shaped rocks.
The intriguing shapes invite climbing, but nasty falls can result when encountering smooth surfaces on the twisted lava.
Many of the eroded rocks resemble meteorites that have been shaped by heat and supersonic airflow. Holes and convex voids are everywhere due to the grit-bearing ancient water flows.
Owens Lake - what's left of it. This lake was sucked dry in thirteen years beginning in 1913. Los Angeles drained it to satisfy its thirst and now it is the largest source of dust pollution in the United States.
A peek at the Sierra Nevada mountain range along with the colorful fall foliage along California Highway 395.
The rugged Sierra Nevada Mountains in the morning sun.
It's easy to appreciate the beauty of the snow when it isn't on the road ahead
Mono lake is another Los Angeles disaster having been lowered 45 feet by "great feats of hydro engineering" called the Los Angeles Aqueduct. The Mono Lake Committee, formed in 1979 successfully fought to conserve Mono Lake. It will take many years to mitigate the "Los Angeles Effect".
There's nothing quite as wonderful as relaxing in a natural hot spring with an endless view of snow-covered peaks.
A relaxed walk back to the vehicle after a long hot soak.
Travertine mound formed by mineral-laden hot water at yet another great hot spring.
The hot spring water flows along this narrow channel and down a five-foot bluff to the hot pool.
Travertine sculpted by the spring resembles formations often found in caverns.
The reason for the trip - to pick up a pop-up truck camper at Four Wheel Campers near Sacramento.
Lowering the camper into the truck bed that has had anchor plates installed.
One happy camper.
A storm looms over the Salton Sea.
Sunrise along the Salton Sea shoreline which is composed primarily of aquatic skeletons on their way toward becoming limestone.
Four-hundred species of birds live perilously on the edge of poisoning at the Salton Sea due to agricultural mismanagement and toxin inflow. Frequent die-offs of American White and California Brown Pelicans are attributed to conditions brought on by commercial operations and water inflow diversion.
Leonard Knight's (1931-2014) Salvation Mountain creation. Over 50 feet high and painted with donated paint, it is his expression of the creator's message for mankind.
Leonard's vehicle art.
A happy soaker in a hot spring amazingly within 200 feet of an interstate highway.