Greetings All….I am still here. Working on getting a once a month post back up. Stay tuned for the first part of a Google Earth tour of the El Paso Mountains!!!
The increase in views has been great. I’ve been on the road traveling for work but am fortunate to be home for the next few weeks. Over the next few days I’ll be uploading my El Paso Virtual Trip files. I’ll be narrating the trails in Google Earth so you can download the KMZ file and play it on your computer. All the photos coordinates will be in there. All you have to do is download it, load it into Google Earth, and watch! Thats it. part 1 should be up in the next few days.
If you need a tutorial in Google Earth please go here…
Coming Soon: Have you ever wanted to walk a half-mile inside of a mountain? Does walking straight down into a talc mine complete with turn of the century ore carts and tracks sound appealing? If you are looking for a great way to spend the day or weekend in the desert this summer the El Paso Mountains is the place you want to go. Great for first time and experienced off-roaders, the area is a great way to get your friends and family hooked into the desert experience. Stay tuned for GPS coordinates and more as we take a weekend drive to the El Paso Mountains.
Well after 5 awesome years of desert adventures my Jeep is no more. I was forced to let him go due to mechanical issues. It just didn’t make sense fix the issue. After much thought, reflection, and tears I took him to a local dealer and sold him. Hopefully he’ll be picked up by someone else who will use him the ways Jeeps were meant to be used. I do look forward to purchasing another Jeep in the near future. The desert travels will continue (thank you Avis…shhhh!). Stay tuned for upcoming posts on “The Alamo”, the Coso Mountains, and Big Sur.
Nestled at the western edge of Death Vally National park sits the last hideout of Charles Manson. Manson, who never murdered anyone with his own hands, was a leader of a cult during the late 1960′s. Many of Manson’s followers are alive today as is Manson himself. Recently he went before a parole board and was denied for another 15 years. When Manson is up for parole in 2027 he will be 92 years old. Without getting into the grizzley details of the grusome murders that the Manson clan committed, when all was said and done 7 innocent people lost their lives.
Fleeing from the police the Manson clan headed 4 hours northeast of Los Angeles to the Panimant Mountain Range.
After the last of the murders took place (google LaBianca Muders) the Manson clan left Sphan Ranch having been arrested earlier for leading a car theft ring. Manson and his followers were released due to a botched warrent. At this time authorities had not linked Manson to the killing spree.
This is the dirt road the Manson clan travelled on in order to get to Barker Ranch. Heading through the Panamint Valley side of the Mountain Range, it sits inside the Death Valley National Park. Manson promised his followers that the Ranch would provide them safe haven from a coming apocalypse where they would emerege as leaders of the new America.
The route climbs through the wash up to the Ranch. There are a few rocky sections but other wise it’s a fairly easy trail. After 30 minutes and one wrong turn we arrived at the Ranch.
We parked our rigs and began to explore the area. The Barker Ranch was built in the 1930′s by Butch and Helen Thomason. Looking for Gold they left the city to mine in the Panamint Range. Often times homesteaders during the early 20th century would move to the desert for the dry air, solitude, and pleasant winter weather.
Sometime during the 1950′s the Thomason’s sold the ranch to Arlene Barker who moved to California from Oklahoma. The Barkers added additional structures to the ranch property. This included a concrete “swiming pool” to catch water, fences, and an array of other comforts. The photos below show the ranch as it appeared in 2009.
When the Manson’s came to the ranch in 1969 they set up for the long haul. During our visit the interior of the main house was still relativley intact. A fridge, couch, bed frames, cabinets we’re left exactly as Manson had left it.
Moving into some of the bedrooms we will see the actual room where Charles Manson was found hiding under the bathroom sink. Although long since removed by Manson fans the room is still there with the outline of the furnishings on the wall.
As we walked through the ranch house we signed the guest book. Unfortunatley, shortley after our visit Barker Ranch was burned down. The stove, furniture, fridge, and many other artifacts have been lost forever. If you can still make it to the site many of the outside walls are still standing. It’s still worth a trip. The canyon drive is beautiful and was featured last year in the American version of Top Gear.
We exited the ranch house and walked up the hill to get a final look at the property. We found a chair perched on a hill…pherhaps Manson or one of his followers sat here to keep a look out for the police. It is important to remember that the Manson family occupies but a small portion of the rich history of the ranch. It was someones home. I’m sure when the original owners moved onto this land they imagined that this ranch would be a place for their children and grand children to enjoy. As much as you wouldn’t believe your house could become as dilapidated as this, they could not either.
When you are out in the desert and run across a shack or remenants of a homestead…remember….that was once someones home….someones own piece of the American dream. Treat it as you would treat your own home.
One of my favorite activites to do in the desert is to lay in my camping chair and stare up at the night sky. The middle of the Mojave is one of the best places sky watch. There are no city lights, no pollution, and you have an endless horizen free of trees and mountains. Take a look at the image below and you can get a taste of what you can see when you are in the Mojave. After the jump watch the video!!!
Growing up I would pick a star and wonder if a world was oribitng around it. Was it a planet? Was someone else looking up from their sky and wondering what Earth was? Do we look like a star to them?
What those questions in mind I went to Mrs. Diaz’s 5th grade class (My Mom) and taught a lesson on Mars Exploration. The students designed and planed a mission to Mars. They designed their vehicle, base, and return trip. Hoping to inspire their learning I travelled out to Johnson Valley and Soggy Dry Lake Bed in the Mojave Desert with a few friends. Please watch and enjoy!
Do me a favor. Stand up and jump as high as you can. Go ahead…do it. Now tell me what happened. Did you float away or did you come right back down? Hopefully you came right back down. Well that’s gravity for you. It’s the reason airliners need giant engines to push them towards the sky and why skydivers need parachutes to control their fall back down to the ground. What would happen if we didn’t have any gravity on Earth?
Well…let’s go to the Moon. Take a look at the image below and tell me what you see!
Yes…that’s right. It’s an Astronaut on the Moon. It looks like he is suspended in air but he really isn’t He is actually jumping. But the gravity pulls much less on the Moon. So when he jumps he appears to float. It would be like you jumping from one end of your classroom to the other. Gravity is less on the Moon than the Earth becuase the bigger the mass (Earth) the greater the pull of gravity. Since the Moon is smaller than the Earth gravity is less.
A few months ago I did something that made me realize how great a force gravity is. I went Skydiving at Lake Elsinore in Southern California. Skydiving has always been on my Bucket List and I figured this was the perfect time to go. Before I was able to jump I had to take a 5 hour class. Most first time jumpers go tandem (attached to someone else) but I wanted to jump alone. The thrill of jumping out of a plane at almost 13,000 feet and piloting my parachute back down to Earth was just too good to pass up. So please sit back and watch the video of my skydive below. What is gravity doing to me?