In between doctor’s visits and other family obligations while we are in southern California, we try to spend as much time in the Southwest this time of year as possible. For the last few years, we have made it a tradition to hit a few of our favorite spots and also try to see some new ones. We once again left the bustling highways of Los Angeles and headed for the dusty desert roads. This time, we started at Mojave National Preserve.
We took the midnight run out of LA and made it all the way to the small roadside stop of Ludlow, California. There really isn’t much here but a gas station, a small diner and a few abandoned buildings.
Driving north into Mojave National Preserve from Interstate 40, we stopped at this spot nicknamed ‘The Dharma Tower’ by our friends Brian and Leigh when they stayed here last year.
It’s a little circular dirth path around a utility building for the radio tower. It’s just big enough for us to drop anchor and spend the night.
I am sure we are way too close to whatever radiation this is emitting.
At least if we start growing extra arms and legs we will know where it came from.
This is today’s art class. Nature and traveling is always the topic on hand.
Pink desert sunsets is what dreams are made of.
And yellow, orange and red if you need to know the rest of the formula.
After a brief stay in Mojave, we made our way across the preserve, which by the way, has some horrendous pot-hole ridden roads, into Las Vegas.
Our friend Kristiana has been consulting with the Downtown Project and got us an invitation to stay the night at their new Airstream and Tiny House community.
This was the former Western RV Resort in downtown Las Vegas. Today it is full of Airstreams, Tumbleweek Tiny Homes and converted buses where people can rent and live full-time as an apartment complex.
It was a really cool concept. It comes complete with a communal area that includes a kitchen, laundry facilities built into shipping containers, as well as an outdoor gathering space with fire pits.
These Tumbleweed Tiny Houses are a pretty awesome to see in person. I, like many others, have been looking at photos of these for many years. We got to tour through a few different models during out visit.
Someone made a teeter totter which is probably one of the most dangerous things here. But what the hell, it’s got a giant mustache on it.
As the sunset starts to fade, the fire pits light up as does the inflatable projection screen with the movie of the night: Lego Movie.
It is still a work in progress but if this is a sustainable concept, I really hope it will proliferate all across the country.
Our friend Kristiana had been working for the Airstream rental company Airstream2Go but has recently parted ways. On good terms of course. Here are two of her personal trailers stored at their facility.
After our stay at the Airstream community, we dragged our house to the strip. To be exact, the alley behind the Paris Las Vegas Hotel.
It’s not a glamorous spot but it is convenient if you are looking for a free overnight stay that is walking distance to the action. We are here because our dear friends Josh and Jessa Works flew into town to attend a conference for the next few days.
We were also joined by our friends Jeff and Lisa along with their two boys. From here we plan to caravan across the southwest for the next few weeks.
Sure we love taking our kids out to explore nature. But what do you do when you are at a Vegas casino? Let them play games on your phone.
And sometimes you show them how the old people in their family called each other before cell phones. Oh, and how we took selfies.
After the Vegas strip, we paid for a $16 night at the Roadrunner RV park so we can dump and fill.
We also use this opportunity to reconnect with Sam and Jess Curren as they were staying near Vegas at Lake Mead.
Heading out of Las Vegas we took the northern route so we can check out Valley of Fire State Park.
We have driven past here countless times and always made excuses to come another time. We could not make excuses any longer so this was the time to do it.
The campground is in a amazingly surreal setting.
I’d say Valley of Fire is pretty fitting name. Especially during the summer months.
These kids loved scrambling on rocks.
We even found a few small caves against the mountains to hide in.
This region was created by uplifting faults underground and thousands of years of sandstone erosion.
While at the campground, I flew the drone up during magic hour and got amazing aerial view of the campground.
It really gives it a very interesting perspective of the geography that makes up this spot.
After leaving Valley of Fire, we made our way over to Page, Arizona for like the 6th time in the last 24 months. I just can’t get enough of this place.
Every time I come here to Horseshoe Bend, I am always in awe of its beauty. It’s not as big as the Grand Canyon but its symmetry and uniqueness of its landscape scores major points in my book.
Don’t go to close girls.
I’ve been here pretty much all hours of the day and still believe that dusk is what gives you the best light for photography.
With the right equipment and a keen eye, you can spend hours here and not take the same picture twice.
Of course the next stop in Page has to be Antelope Canyon.
The more popular canyon to visit is Upper Antelope Canyon. That is where you can hire a guide right in the town of Page and they will drive you right up to the canyon.
Since we did upper last time, we decided to check out lower. Unlike Upper Antelope Canyon, here you start above the slot canyon and have to climb down into it.
The lighting in midday is not as dramatic as upper but the sandstone formations equally breathtaking.
It is also usually less crowded as there are limits to how many tours are given each day.
These kids one day will realize that they just experienced.
Our last few times here we have stayed at Lone Rock Beach. This time we gave the Elks Lodge a shot. It was right in town and very conveniently located.
After Page, we drove further south and spent a night in Phoenix before quickly making our way to Tucson. Phoenix always seems to bore me and this time was no different.
We chose to stay at our favorite campground in the Tucson Area: Gilbert Ray.
No reservations are taken or usually needed here. We’ve always found a spot even during the peak of the very popular Gem Show.
These kids have become great friends after all of the traveling we’ve done together.
Next stop from Tucson is Tombstone. We came here last year and camped at a secret boondocking spot with Aluminarium and met Tim of @van_tramp. We had such a great time here that this return trip has been highly anticipated.
The dark nights here made for perfect long-exposure photography.
And light painting. It took us a bunch of tries to get something that remotely looks like the name Tombstone.
A lot of people talk about this town being touristy. Well no shit Sherlock. If wasn’t for the tourist trade, this town would be completely deserted. We love it and embrace it for what it is.
The kids all got toy revolvers and hats so they can dress the part.
They even caught themselves a bandito. Well, that is actually Marlene’s dad. He has been a fan of cowboy stories his whole life. He never made the time to come here for a visit so now that he is finally retired, there were no more excuses.
Marlene’s parents booked a few nights in a couple of hotels in town to coincide with our visit.
When Nona and Dida are around, it means ice cream every day.
We’ve been here several times but never made it out to Boot Hill Cemetery. I guess I was resisting that fact that there are hardly any original tombstones left and much of the authenticity is gone. But hey, like I said, we just need to embrace Tombstone for what it is. Besides, Boot Hill is free to visit so why not.
The night skies of the Arizona desert tells many tales of the old west.
For the first time, we took the kids for a little geocaching when we found that there was one right by the boondocking spot. They had a hard time giving away their perfectly good toys for the junk that was in the cache.
Our last day in Tombstone we made it over to the second hotel Marlene’s parents were staying at. It is a new dude-ranch type resort built right next to the Ed Schieffelin memorial. Ed Schieffelin is credited for being the founder of Tombstone in 1879 and the rest is history.
This place is called the Tombstone Monument Guest Ranch. A western-style Main street also serves as the rooms for the overnight guests.
You can come here just for a night’s stay or you can bring a gang and spend a week with activities planned for you.
After Tombstone, we began making our way west towards California. From Tombstone we headed over to the small town of Ajo. This is one place in Arizona that we have never been to and are glad to have finally made it here.
We met up with Kerri and Tim who has been here for a few days.
We did our best to cramp their style with 5 loud and unruly children.
Ajo is a small town pretty much right between Tucson and Yuma. Just a few miles south is the Mexican border.
This is Moose. He is Tim’s pup that he adopted outside of a Moose Lodge where he was staying. Hence the name. He is the sweetest little dog and loves chin scratches and jumping onto laps.
He also likes to kiss little girls that pet him.
If you didn’t notice, Tim and Kerri are now an item. They met in Borrego Springs and hit it right off. It is great to see single full timers find each other and click the way they have.
Tim might need to give Luka a lesson or two on how to fling that ball.
This is Byron. Thats Kerri’s pup. Maybe he can appreciate a gentle throw.
Is it happy hour yet? That means Minecraft on the iPads for these kids.
With all of this open land, they get more than their fair share of exploring.
As we wind down our loop through the southwest for the last couple of months, we stopped at Quartzsite for a bite before finally rolling back into California.
For the next few weeks, we will need to take care of more business in southern California so the Mish will get to stay in the desert at Sam’s Family Spa’s storage area while we are away. Don’t worry, we will be back real soon to bail her out.
over and out,