A roundabout trip to Death Valley and back: back

Sometime during the night, the wind came up. I mean really came up. The next morning, Michele sort of slept in while the wind tore at our bag and erased our view by filling the valley with dust.

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We packed – packing being defined as throwing everything in the back of the truck as quickly as possible – skipped coffee, and headed for the nearest coffee shop. Of course, the nearest coffee shop was 30 minutes down the fan, 15 minutes on a paved road, another hour on another dirt road – where we crossed the dry Amargosa River that I had crossed on New Year’s Day 1982 when it was covered with a thin layer of ice – and, finally, another 45 minutes on a paved road to Baker. Ready to break our fast.

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After breakfast, we got on the highway  from Las Vegas to Barstow that was pretty crowded with cars on heading back to LA. It was a big change from the day before.

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Our plan, yesterday, was to go for a hike to Ashford Mine in Death Valley, but the wind put the kibosh on that. We both wanted to go walking somewhere – yesterday, we had walked less than we wanted because of the Golar Wash fiasco – but we really didn’t have any place in mind. The good news was that we had a lot of time in which to talk about it. First on the highway we were on, then on the road to Mojave.

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After lots of discussion – lots of discussion because we had lots of time as the road went on and on – we decided to go for a short walk near the Tehachapi Loop and see if we could find a place to walk near the Kern National Wildlife Reserve in the Great Central Valley.

The Tehachapi Loop is on the rail line between Bakersfield in the Great Central Valley and Tehachapi Pass about 3,300 feet higher. The actual loop is the railway making a 360 degree turn and crossing over itself. I used to go by the Loop often on the way to Death Valley and once camped there but I was surprised to see how popular it has become.

We even ran into a couple from Holland.

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Neither one of us had been to the Kern National Wildlife Refuge. It was in an area I used to drive through when I went out with a girl from the Great Central Valley but I had not been there since 1961. We figured it would be fun to see a couple of valley towns and check out the Refuge but we did not hold out much hope for the refuge being much of anything. The Valley was great with miles and miles of farms and small towns. The towns were much healthier than we expected with both the downtowns and the parks action packed on a Sunday afternoon.

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When we got to the Kern National Wildlife Refuge, we were blown away. OK, bad choice of words, we were blown away trying to get into the Mad Greeks for breakfast hours earlier in the wind – but we were very impressed. It was a great place to end our trip, an oasis teaming with wildlife.

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As the sun went down, we headed home. (Double clickable.)

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