Tuesday, October 6, 2020


We squeezed in another short little camp trip to the Blackrock playa and this time it was to help celebrate the birthday of Susan's friend Maureen.  This weekend also happened to be National Public Lands Day, which was a bonus.

In addition to meeting more of Susan's friends, I had one of my closest friends, 
"Hansi" join us on the trip.

Even though the days were fairly hot, the evenings cooled down considerably 
and at night, it was downright chilly.

There's just something about that first beer you open on every trip
that makes you realize how truly wonderful life can be.

Home on the playa.

I first met "Hansi" in 1998.  We worked together in the same career and often found ourselves in the kind situations that give rise to a strong brotherhood.  He's been 
one of my closest and dearest friends ever since.  We now live eight hours apart
and that sometimes makes it difficult to see each other as often as we'd like, but 
with retirement right around the corner, we've vowed to change that!

The clean, crisp air of the desert and the wonderful sunsets always make
me feel at home and at peace.

Two perspectives of Old Razorback mountain with the moon.

Hansi always goes LITE, but we were all wondering if he could actually
fit in that little tent.  He did, but only barely.

For dinner, Susan and her friend who's also a Susan, made her tacos that
were such a hit on our last playa trip.  Chicken and beef asada tacos with all
of the fixins and as usual, there was plenty of beer and wine.

After dinner, I grabbed my black UV light and went scorpion hunting.  Out on
the playa, you probably won't see any scorpions, but if you go into the portion
of the playa that transitions to the sage, you'll see more than you can count.

Virtually every bush I went to had at least one scorpion and some had two or three.  They ranged in size from about 1 to 4 inches, so think about that next
time you decide to walk around with sandals...

This was Hansi's first time on the playa, but he loved it and is already
making plans to return with his wife.

There really is something special about this place and most deserts
in general.  I think they're every bit as beautiful as places like
Yosemite, it just that the desert makes you look for the beauty
a little more, but there's a certain joy in making that realization.

We packed up camp on Sunday and stopped by Planet X Pottery on the way home.  If you plan it right, you can get most of your Christmas shopping done
in one stop at Planet X.

We're already planning our next trip to the area and would like to check out
the Fly Geyser and the Soldier Meadows area.

Until next time...


Every year, Susan meets a bunch of her family and friends at an old historic house that's been handed down over the generations to her mother's close friend Kay.  The house usually fills up with guests and several families park their campers on the property for a weekend of catching up over a lot of great food and wine.

This year, amidst the smoke from the many wildfires that were burning up a large portion of northern California, I accompanied Susan on her annual trip and we had a great time.

The house was built in 1857 and it has so much character that only a house
of that age can have.  It's right on the main street of Taylorsville.

Just look at that beautiful wrap around porch.

We set up our little camper near the barn, alongside two big, 
fancy travel trailers.

We had a great time just relaxing on the big porch.

There was plenty of wine, beer and snacks to keep
everyone happy.

The next day, Susan and I took a walk through the little town and of course,
Dexter had to roll around in any bit of water he could find.

The temperatures were in the high 90°s during the day, which isn't that
bad, but the humidity was also very high and that, combined with
all of the smoke from the fires, made it somewhat uncomfortable in 
the middle of the day.

This is the old one room schoolhouse for Taylorsville.  When
peeking in the windows, you can still see some of the old
furniture and fixtures from yesteryear.

When you think of northern California, it's easy to imagine
wine vineyards and orchards, but this area has a lot of
ranching.  We saw lots of cattle and sheep grazing away in the
picturesque valleys of the area.

We had to cool off in the local swimming hole and although the views were
spectacular, the smoky haze gave the area a kind of surreal look.

I can't tell you how good it felt to sink into that cold water
after such hot, smoky days.  A wet Dexter in the foreground
lets you know he spent more time in the water than out of it.

Susan and Kay caught some rays and enjoyed catching up
with one another.

Back at the house, Dexter assumed his regular dog
duty on the front porch.

Sunday finally came and signified that the weekend was coming to a
close.  After one last nice breakfast on the porch, we packed up the 
camper and headed back home.

We had such a great time and it's so nice to meet the friends of someone
who's special to you and even better to realize her friends are as
wonderful as she is. 

Saturday, October 3, 2020


This weekend was just after the peak of the Perseid Meteor Shower, but we knew there would still be a lot of shooting stars to see and what better place to see them than on the playa in the Black Rock Desert.

We met up with friends at the Black Rock visitor's center in Gerlach and then convoyed over to our campsite on the edge of the playa.  The weather was perfect, the sunset was spectacular, the stars were shooting, the food was great and the best part of it was that we got to spend time with wonderful people.

It's always a dusty ride in.

We did our best to set up with social distancing in mind.

There were rigs and set ups of all shapes and sizes.

It was time for a ride with a beautiful sunset as the backdrop.

After the sun went down, Susan made an incredible carne asada taco dinner, which was perfect for a late summer evening in the desert.

As the evening got a little later and the meteors started to become visible, we all kind of shifted from beer and white wine to whiskey and red wine.

Steve, very generously, brought out this bottle of Old Taylor
with a Bond Mark of 1931 and he shared it with everyone!  It
was probably the smoothest bourbon I've ever tasted.  Even
those who weren't whiskey drinkers loved it.  Thanks Steve!

The next morning, we woke up to a beautiful, clear desert morning.

First things first.  We all had to get our coffee fix.

Jonathan and Stacey made a nice big breakfast for everyone and then
we all hung out and enjoyed the beauty.

It was only Susan's second time to the playa, but she's hooked now...

One more morning ride on the playa before packing up camp
to do some exploring.

A bunch of us convoyed over to check out some wild hot springs in the area.

We first stopped at Black Rock hot springs, which is a beautiful
oasis in the desert.

These hot springs were also used by some of the pioneers who were heading
west in the 1800's.  They provided much needed water for those about to
cross a very unforgiving part of the west.

Marge (R), who's very knowledgeable about the area, spoke to the group
about its history and little known facts.  It was very informative.

Next was Double Hot hot springs and with 175° water, I can see where it got its name.

Double Hot is far too hot to soak in, but is incredible looking.

After exploring the springs, it was time to head home.  As we crossed the playa on our way back to the main road, a huge plume of playa dust spewed into the air behind the truck.  This fine dust gets everywhere, but I've never minded it.  To me, it's like having a fine layer of talc on and it feels crisp and dry.

Once back home, we washed the playa off and Susan made us an incredible dinner, which was a perfect ending to an incredible weekend.