Report #7 - Return to Mt. View
On my first night out of Death Valley, I tried to boondock (park the trailer and spend the night in some place other than a campground, and without hookups for water or electricity) near a waterfall, but the road was unpaved and rough, so I decided to turn around and park near where the pavement ended. It turned out that there was a gravel pit nearby, and they started running truckloads of gravel past me at 4AM!
On Wednesday I drove through Tahachapi and crossed the area where I had hiked nearby during my Pacific Crest Trail hike in 1999. In Pumpkin Center I found the first open public truck scale of the trip and was able to have my rig weighed. The total weight of truck and trailer, with me in the driver's seat, was fifteen thousand seven hundred forty pounds, well under the truck's towing limit of eighteen thousand pounds. The trailer is about one thousand pounds under its weight limit, very good news.
On to Taft where I visited the Kern County Oil Museum. I was surprised to learn that Kern County has an oil field that has produced 2 billion barrels of oil over the last 100 years, and that the highest producing oil field in the lower 48 states is not in Texas, it is in Kern County, CA. I spent the night in the museum's parking lot.
Driving north from Taft I passed through areas where all you could see in all directions to the horizon was (were?) oil wells and pipes. I was impressed with the amazingly vast area dedicated to oil. I stopped in Coalinga where I visited the Baker Historical Museum and learned, among other things, where the name "Coalinga" came from: There was a low grade coal mine nearby, and before there was any town there, the railroad had a coaling station for the steam locomotives known as, "Coaling Station A". When a town developed, the shorthand "Coaling A" became "Coalinga" pronounced co LIN ga. The 83 year old docent who showed me around the museum had lived in the area all her life, was personally familiar with most of the museum's exhibits, and made my visit a memorable one.
I spent Thursday and Friday nights in the Pinnacles Campground just outside Pinnacles National Monument . As I was driving in I saw a bobcat on one side of the road and a young deer on the other. I guess they got along - I'm told the bobcat prefers smaller game. Nighttime temperatures dropped into the high 20's and there was frost on the grass and ice on the windshield. It was pretty cold in the trailer overnight because I chose not to run the propane furnace in order to save my batteries from the heavy drain of the furnace fan. It had been a week since I was last connected to 110 volts to recharge the batteries and I didn't want to drain them too much. When I get back on the road (around 3 December) I will have 4 golf cart batteries instead of 2 and will head toward AZ where I plan to have a solar panel installed (To recharge my batteries when I am not connected to "shore power") and will also have a catalytic heater installed (for efficient propane heating without the need to use any electricity). At that point the utility that will determine the maximum time I can boondock will be water, not electricity.
I spent Friday hiking in Pinnacles National Monument. A unique feature of Pinnicles is a narrow, water carved canyon where large rocks have fallen into the canyon forming a roof and turning it into a tunnel. This is a trail that requires a flashlight for hiking (or should I say, scrambling?)
Pinnacles NM pictures
On Saturday I hitched up the trailer one more time and headed for Mountain View and a family Thanksgiving. The trailer again sits on Continental circle, ready for the next adventure.
Since I left home on 19 October, I have pulled the trailer about 1,350 miles and driven the truck an additional 635 miles, a lot of it on dirt roads at Boundary Peak, Charleston Peak, and in Death Valley. My fuel economy has improved a little as I have become a more experienced driver, and now sits at almost 8MPG (except when we're climbing a lot of big hills). The truck alone (when it's not pulling the trailer) gets about 10MPG.
Rita and I wish you a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday.
Oil rigs and pipes to the horizon in Kern County.
Before getting to Pumpkin Center, I passed through Weedpatch.
This old oil drilling machine was on display at the Kern County Oil Museum.
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Page last updated April 30, 2004