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Old 03-10-2010, 06:01 AM   #1
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2010 Desert Parks Wildflower Tour

It's T-minus 60 hours and counting until the late Friday afternoon launch of Desert Parks Tour #6, a three thousand mile journey to catch the spring wildflower blooms of the Sonoran and Mojave deserts.

All mechanical systems are go and final loading of the Sportsmobile will begin shortly on Friday morning. Psychologically though, the crew is almost braindead from the last four months of this miserable winter. Changes in latitudes, changes in attitudes are in order. Now if the Sporty would just drive itself down I-15.

With the new Dell notebook 'puter up and running, I'm going to try posting some trip reports from the road, where ever there is a wireless hotspot or Verizon access.. But I'm pretty sure the Racetrack in Death Valley National Park doesn't have net access, thank god.

First camping spot will be Valley of Fire State Park east of Vegas, followed by Joshua Tree National Park, four days in Anza Borrego Desert State Park, Mojave National Preserve and finally several days in Death Valley National Park. Last year at his time, Anza Borrego had received 3.5 inches of rain, and had a good bloom of wildflowers to my untrained eye. This year, Anza has received nearly 8 inches of moisture and is having a very, very good bloom according to the botanists on the ground there. It should be an amazing trip!

Previous posts on this subject include the Extreme Air compresser install thread:
viewtopic.php?f=3&t=4193&start=0

The pre-launch thread:
viewtopic.php?f=11&t=4395

The 2009 Desert Parks Tour thread:
viewtopic.php?f=11&t=2777&start=0


Itís time to stop and smell the flowers.

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Old 03-12-2010, 06:01 AM   #2
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Re: 2010 Desert Parks Wildflower Tour

0600 HOURS MST FRIDAY MARCH 12, 2010

Launch time has been moved up to noon today, in hope of missing heavy weather moving into the trip trajectory southwest over Monida Pass on the Continental Divide on Saturday. It appears that a major late winter storm is moving into southwest Utah late Saturday and Sunday making our dash to the desert along the I-15 corridor this weekend extremely difficult.

The good news is that the storm should be over quickly, with highs in southwest Utah predicted to reach the 50s on Monday. Stay tuned for more trip updates from the road, from the new Verizon air card and Dell notebook!
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Old 03-12-2010, 08:11 PM   #3
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Re: 2010 Desert Parks Wildflower Tour

2000 HOURS MST FRIDAY MARCH 12 Idaho Falls, ID

Made the 250 mile run down I-15 in five hours to Idaho Falls. No snow or weather yet, but very cloudy and gloomy. The real fun starts tomorrow, with the 500 mile run down to St. George, UT and off the high levels of the eastern Great Basin/western Colorado Plateau. All of I-15 south of Salt Lake is under a Winter Storm watch for thundershowers, sleet freezing rain and heavy wet snow starting sometime after noon on Saturday.

We will see how far south we can get before we either hole up or out run the storm. Isn't traveling in March in the Intermountain West fun?
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Old 03-12-2010, 08:35 PM   #4
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Re: 2010 Desert Parks Wildflower Tour

Be safe! I look forward to the pictures.

Ron

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Old 03-12-2010, 09:13 PM   #5
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Re: 2010 Desert Parks Wildflower Tour

Ed, I am heading down to Anza Borrego SP myself. I am leaving in the next couple of days. I went for the Spring bloom last year for the first time. It was REALLY cool. Weather was nice and flowers OMG. Maybe I'll run into you again. Last time we met was in Death Valley a few years back. You might want to check out this site for spring bloom updates:

http://www.desertusa.com/wildflo/wildupdates.html
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Old 03-13-2010, 04:59 PM   #6
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Re: 2010 Desert Parks Wildflower Tour

1600 HOURS MST SATURDAY March 13, 2010 BEAVER, UTAH
Got up and on the road southbound at I-15 at 0600 HOURS after a banana and a sausage biscuit from Micky Dís. the road was dark and dry, and after sunup pretty cloudy and gloomy. At Mallad Summit south of Pocatello, we hit the first snowstorm. Not bad, but just getting to the point of icing the road surface, before we drive out of it at Tremonton, Utah.

I-15 through the Salt Lake Metroplex had the least amount of traffic we have seen in years, but this is at 1000 on a gloomy rainy Saturday morning.

After a quick lunch in Nephi, Utah, we head south into the first of the heavy rainstorms. The speed limit here in the open desert is 80mph but you have to be crazy to go that fast with this amount of water on the road. South of Scipio, the rain clouds lift and we can see 30-40 miles south across the big bowl of this portion of the Great Basin around Fillmore, Utah. Stopping at Fillmore for more diesel (pricey for Montana at $3.19/gallon) we can see big storm cells moving north toward us. Maybe its just a few more rainstorms I think.



Ten miles south of Fillmore, we find out itís not.



A huge wall cloud of the approaching snowstorm hits the Sporty with a vicious crosswind from the southwest. Pretty soon there is pea size hail pelting the vehicle, with bolts of lightning off to the east of the interstate. A timid (or wise) trucker has stopped under an overpass, and positioned his windshield out of the direct force of the hail. A couple of RVs have pulled off on the shoulder, and a 5 by 3 foot interstate road sign is twisted into pretzel by the side of the road from the winds in the storm front. We have motel reservations in Cedar City tonight, but we will be lucky to get to the next tiny town, Beaver Utah in this storm.

The interstate goes up and over several high spurs coming westward over the Utah mountains into the Great Basin desert at this point, and the snow gets worse by the mile. Forward visibility is reduced to 50 and then 25 yards and the road is covered with several inches of icy slush. More worrisome is that the windshield wipers on the Sporty continue to ice up, forcing us to stop twice to clean the ice off of the frozen blades, even with the defrost going full blast. At one point the entire windshield is iced-over, except for the small swath cleared by the ice encrusted wipers.

After many miles creeping along at 40mph in heavy traffic in heavy wet snow, we have had enough and can barely see the exit at Beaver Utah. We get a motel room at 1430 HOURS and collapse for a while. Notice the frozen headlights on the Sporty:



Checking the Internet in the motel room, a 150 mile stretch of I-15 has whiteout conditions. 70 miles south of Beaver, thereís dry pavement. Oh well, the dry desert will have to wait until tomorrow.
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Old 03-13-2010, 05:33 PM   #7
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Re: 2010 Desert Parks Wildflower Tour

Hello Captainkettle! Yes I remember meeting at Mesquite Springs in Death Valley several years ago. We had four Sportmobiles in the campground that night.

We will be Anza Borrego Desert State Park starting Tuesday night, March 16th through Saturday morning, March 20th, camping mostly in the backcountry. Half of Borrego Palm Campground is closed this year due to budget cuts, so I don't know if we will be visiting there.

Last year, Anza had a little over three inches of rain. This winter, Borrego Springs has received nearly eight inches of precipitation. It should be an amazing wildflower bloom. Hope to run into you there.
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Old 03-14-2010, 08:40 AM   #8
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Re: 2010 Desert Parks Wildflower Tour

0830 HOURS SUNDAY MARCH 14 BEAVER UTAH

We arrived at 1530 hours yesterday afternoon in a blinding white out that lasted until near 1800 hours. Shortly after we found a motel room, a wrecker came by with a Ford Expedition sized SUV on its flatbed, that looked like it had slid under a tractor trailer, with the engine hood peeled back over the windsheild. Not good. The occupants seemed okay though.

The white out lifted for an hour and half in early evening and some travel on the Interstate resumed, but it began to snow and blow afterwards with blizzard conditions.

Here's Sporty at 0800 this morning:




Got to dig out the snow scraper to dig out the van. There's traffic on the Interstate going south (including a snowplow) and we are going to try to make Saint George and dry pavement. It's down to the desert.
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Old 03-14-2010, 08:50 AM   #9
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Re: 2010 Desert Parks Wildflower Tour

Snow in the morning and warm sunshine in the the evening. You are a lucky man. Congrats on finding a room yesterday that was probably a stroke of luck as well.

What an Adventure!
Glad your safe
Thanks for bringing me along.


Ron
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Old 03-15-2010, 01:51 PM   #10
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Re: 2010 Desert Parks Wildflower Tour

1300 MONDAY MARCH 15, 2010 LAKE MEAD NRA VISITOR CENTER, BOULDER CITY NV

Escaped the snow and slush on I-15 on Sunday morning to the cool and breezy desert at Valley of Fire State Park east of Las Vegas. Beautiful quiet campground at Arch Rock.

Good sunset/sunrise pics, but no time to upload. More later.

It's further down to Joshua Tree NP for tonight, and hopefully hotter weather.
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