May 2014 – We have decided to return to Flagstaff in Arizona, for the Overland Expo Show which is being held at Mormon Lake, on the 16th, 17th and 18th of this month.
From Lake Mead where we have been camping at Echo Bay, we join Highway 93 which takes us down to where another section of the famous Route 66 begins….between Kingman and Seligman. Lots of interesting, historic memorabilia along this route….vintage cars, Indian stores full of souvenirs and crafts and the throaty roars and rumbles of modern day Harley Davidsons cruising the road.
Flat, bleached grasslands stretch away to the horizon each side of the road and tumbleweed is tossed around in the fierce wind. It’s a parched landscape here under a hot sun and desert wind. Everywhere is on red fire alert, banning anything that has a chance to start a fire. California is on the front page of newspapers today suffering from fires that have destroyed many homes in their paths from San Diego in the south, north to San Francisco. Their drought also continues.
We camp overnight at Flagstaff again enjoying warm and sunny weather, a bit different from when we were here last in freezing temperatures before visiting the Grand Canyon. From here we head through miles of pine forests and a large wetland area where people are out cycling, walking, jogging and fishing. Mormon Lake however, which relies on snow melt, is drying up fast……it is clear where the water should be reaching.
Many people are at the Expo with all kinds of vehicles and it’s great to see a number of other Land Rovers and meet up with some from the Northern California and British Columbia Land Rover Clubs.
Had we known, we could have parked amongst a small group of other overlanders, all keen to talk about their vehicles and share travels……..am sure that our roof conversion would have created some interest. Once again it’s good to see two Land Rovers amongst these and chat for the first time with David and Jayne from Birmingham and their ‘Lizzybus’.
The other very interesting overland vehicles from different parts of the world, dwarfed the Land Rovers……
We discover new ideas amongst the many stalls, including some interesting ideas with solar panels, admire a clever conversion with a jeep……
…….see some unusual and bored spectators…….
………..and for those with plenty of money in their pockets, this EarthRoamer is certainly an amazing vehicle!
We could have stayed longer, but internet information was, that camping at the show ground was full, so we had booked 2 nights at Flagstaff instead. Everyone seems to think however, that there would be room for us to fit in alongside them, so thanks for the offers Dave and Stuart from Land Rovers British Columbia and also Brenton and Shannon whom we met for the first time back in La Paz in Bolivia……great to see you guys again!
Heading back west once again on the same route, we decide to take a turning off the 93 soon after Kingman which will take us past Dolan Springs. A group, of delightful, elderly people welcome us at their excellent Visitor Centre here and are keen to give us lots of local information on the area ahead, which continues to Meadview for camping. I have noticed a Joshua Tree forest marked on this dirt road and also thought it might be possible further on, to get views of the Grand Canyon from its western rim. To do this however, we discover that expensive tour packages are required, as this area is on an Indian Reservation, privately owned and operated by the Hualapai Indian Tribe.
There are many Joshua trees now on both sides of the road as we leave Dolan Springs, not quite a forest but some are quite large. These giant branching species of yucca can slowly grow to over 40 feet tall.
The RV Park is just before Meadview, excellent value at $10 a night, with all the facilities that we need. It’s in a relaxing and peaceful location amongst the Joshua trees and a great place to watch the sun setting behind them. This whole area we are told, is a big gold mining area, popular with many locals who arrive in the summer to try their luck up in the hills!
Before we leave we explore a dirt road signposted to Pearce Ferry. This takes us through a wonderfully remote landscape with views of Lake Mead.
Once again this was prospecting country. From the 1870s to the 1950s, miners worked these hills for mica, gold, silver, copper and zinc. Abandoned mines……..(with names such as Golden Mile, Eureka, Smuggler, Joker and Ruby Rose)….and forsaken dreams, mark the hills and mountains on both sides of Lake Mead.
Cactus covered in formidable spines are bringing some colour to the desert, their yellow flowers beginning to open in a ring around the top of the plant. It’s amazing how plants and animals have learned to adapt to this harsh environment. I tread carefully to take photographs, as in the heat of the day, snakes can often be coiled up in the shade under bushy plants.
The dirt road finally ends at Pearce Ferry and a very brown stretch of the Colorado River. A number of guys are packing up their gear after spending 22 days on the river, riding the rapids. They had a great time they tell us, apart from a scary few moments when one of the boats capsized. From our place by the river, the Great Wash Cliffs rise up on our right and it’s incredible to think that the western end of the Grand Canyon, ends just beyond these.
It was also here, many years ago, that a man named Pearce used to work a ferry. The Mormon settlers who lived in the area, would come here to trade their cattle and would very often take them across the river by the ferry…..hence the name.
It’s time to head into California’s Death Valley. The weather apparently is cooling down there and there is even a chance of rain! Have heard so much about this place and have no idea what to expect, but have a feeling that it is going to be great trip!