Road Trip to Texas – Day 2

After being pleasantly surprised about our camping spot chosen in the dark I went on an early morning walk in the Mojave National Preserve. Mohave National Preserve

Catclaw acacia, Acacia greggii Catclaw acacia.DSC_6847

jack rabbitAfter stowing our gear we set off north to see what the town of Kelso looked like. Have you ever seen a sign with a flashing light that cautions you to watch for tortoises? I never had and I wish I had stopped for a photo. It was one of those things that I thought I’d do on the way back but we ended up making a loop through the preserve.

DSC_6892First stop was Kelso, a ghost town and defunct railway depot. Most of the building in town are gone but the railway depot was restored and serves as the visitor center.DSC_6891This is a jail cell that was used from the mid-1940s to1985 to “confine drunks or other unruly individuals for a night or two”. The placard said that there was a corrugated shell to protect from rain and sun but that “prisoners rarely spent more than one night in the jail”.

The Preserve contains three major desert ecosystems–Mojave, Great Basin, and Sonoran, as well as the world’s largest and densest Joshua tree forest.We wound our way through the Joshua tree and then pinyon-juniper ecosystems and also saw the affects of the previous night’s rain–flooded gullies and washes. Our next stop was at the “Hole in the Wall”…

IMG_5143 …where we did a one-mile hike that took us through Banshee Canyon.Mohave National Preserve (1)Mohave National Preserve (2)IMG_5147Petroglyphs on the other side of the bluffs.

I was glad to spend some time in the preserve but our goal was to get to Texas and we hadn’t even left California. So we got in the truck and headed for Arizona. DSC_6926We wanted to see as many “points of interest” as possible but since our real goal was to get to Texas we considered this mainly an on-the-road trip, seeing the country along the way, but without a lot of time to spend in any one place.

DSC_6932 About 10 miles southeast of Flagstaff we stopped at Walnut Canyon National Monument, but the trails to the cave dwellings were already closed for the day. However we could view them from short trail along the top of the canyon. Can you spot the dwellings just below that ridge on the right?

DSC_6933 So that was a quick walk on the nature trail and a chance to stretch our legs and we took off again. I told Dan that we had to stop in Winslow. IMG_5151 (1)He was a good sport about standing on the corner. But it turned out to be the wrong corner. The green sign points to the other corner. IMG_5156 IMG_5158It turns out that there were a lot of people also standing on the corner. You almost have to wait in line for your turn at the corner. A quick stop in a souvenir shop and we got on the road again.

All the next photos were taken from the truck.

DSC_6947 Beautiful sky and landscape.

DSC_6949 DSC_6956 We needed to figure out where to spend the night but most of the land on the way to New Mexico is either privately owned or reservation land, so camping wasn’t an option. Seeing the clouds and lightening to the east was the other reason to find a motel for the night and we decided to make it to Gallup, New Mexico. These shots were taken on the way to Gallup, starting about 15 miles away. Incredible rainbow.

DSC_6961 DSC_6966 DSC_6971 DSC_6973   

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More tomorrow.

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