Thursday, April 13, 2017

Why We Have a Jeep

April 8-10, 2017
Calico Ghost Town, California

One final visit from Richie and Gabby before we pull out on Saturday morning. Have to get those last hugs!

Pulling out of the park, we cheer as we drive over those damn speed bumps one last time!!!

We're expecting winds in the desert, and the last ten miles of 30 mph+ sustained side winds are "unpleasant". Fortunately, although the official check-in time is 4 PM, we're able to get into our site at Calico Ghost Town Campground before noon. 

Unfortunately the site is horribly sloped and we seriously consider just riding out the wind and leaving the next morning. We end up staying - it's like living in one of those "mystery shacks" - but we make the best of it. 

The campground has one loop at the front for those with ATVs where there is direct access to lots of trails. We're in the loop "around the corner" with a large restroom/shower and concrete seating thingy in the center. There's acres of desert all around, but the two dozen children play here - it's weird, and loud. Sites are very tight, and all are sloped. This loop has FHUs with 30 amp, rock fire rings, and all the other sites have a picnic table. As much fun as we have during our stay, I'm not sure we'd stay here again.

When we didn't have neighbors.....
The wind blows all night and we don't put out the two small slides until morning. The "wind-off" switch flips about 4 AM and the rest of our time is lovely.

We eat at the only thing open in Yermo other than gas stations, Peggy Sue's Diner, which is always busy. 

Five dining rooms full of music and movie memorabilia.
We make a couple trips into the very blighted town of Barstow (once we even drive there through the desert). But mostly we do what we stopped here for - we play in the dirt.

It's a big playground with plenty of designated trails.
The colorful hills are filled with old mines marked with several No Trespassing signs. We don't need to go there.
More than a little creepy is a vent pipe in the middle of nowhere. No other signs of any building here, and the pipe goes deeper than my flashlight beam. No one answers when I call......
The pink and white spikes give these interesting cactus a peppermint look. We only see a couple.
We used to have a lot of desert holly in the area where I grew up, but this is the first place I've seen it in years.
Mother Nature makes the prettiest floral arrangements.

There are white, lavender and yellow daisies.

I wonder where the little bees go when the flowers disappear?
Wrapped in the quiet of nature with no other people in sight.
An interesting "mud arch". 
Scanning for critters from up top.
Sunday traffic on I-15 visible from a hilltop, while we stay and play. Life is good.
The best trail we find is Mud Canyon. One of those areas that justifies having a 4-wheel-drive Jeep with high ground clearance. The road is so rough that when we get back at the end of the day I feel like I've been working-out at the gym for hours. Still, we love every mile of it, both what we travel, and what we see.

Piper adds her own color to the landscape.

The deep green looks like moss, but is the color of the rock.
The wonder of nature,

and the gifts we find when we take the time to look closely.
This section has zero vegetation, and its own stark beauty.

The fun of getting to the other side, much rougher than it looks.
We only see two motorcycles and other than trash dumped near the backside of town, we see little sign of people. EXCEPT for target shooters. Geeez, what a mess they leave behind, including spent shells and broken glass. 

Signs of un-intelligent life. Yes, a helium tank.
We climb this little hill, and find 
Seemingly endless possibilities to explore.
Different perspectives on the return drive.

Love the muted blue and purple.
Sometimes it's not what's around the corner.

Sometimes it's the corner itself.
It never gets old.
Our last afternoon we visit the little ghost town. The $8 per person is included in our camping fees. It has been nicely restored by the Knott family of Knott's Berry Farm fame. Don't think we'd make the drive here just for the town, but it's a fun addition to our visit.

The street fills on weekends and holidays.


1888 Ahrens steam fire engine.

The restored church keeps watch over the little mining town. Current population: 6.
Calico was a great stop in between our two big-city stays. We love getting back out in nature. Next we're off to Las Vegas for a week.


  1. Getting hungry for a Buddy Holly burger at Peggy Sue's! You captured the elusive desert 5 spot, despite the 'super bloom' in Borrego I did not find one :( Thanks for sharing!

    With the rain in SoCal this year Afton Canyon might make a Jeep outing, the road to the campground is not really big-rig friendly, but there are lots of Jeep trails and there should be water.

    1. Peggy Sue's is such an iconic stop - I bet everybody has a favorite selection!!

      Didn't know the name and have never seen one before, so glad to share with you.

  2. What awesome desert drives. You certainly found lots of variety and color. Gotta love having a Jeep Wrangler. You never have to worry about the road condition. What a neat surprise when the pink flower opened:)

    1. We're so happy with the added clearance in the "real" Jeep :-))))

  3. Love the tiny flower in the very dried up desert....nature is amazing! The drives are spectacular and so colorful. And I still enjoy a stroll thru a ghost town! Great photos Jodee!

    1. Thanks Gay. We had such a great time!

  4. The varied color of the hills is beautiful! And that little desert five-spot is one of my favorite desert wildflowers. You captured a beautiful photo of it in the cracked mud. Happy trails! :-))

    1. The colors really took us by surprise! I don't remember ever seeing a five-spot before, and it's now a favorite for me too :-))

  5. At the price often charged at RV parks I just don't understand why the sites can't be level. Does anyone want to sleep on a slope? Really. Sorry for the rant but I've experienced it too often and read others do too. The little Five Spot stand out in the desert even with all those great rock colors. Often I wish I owned a jeep.

    1. At $42/night I was more than irritated at the ridiculous slope of those sites. We sure do enjoy our Jeep!

  6. Our friends Geri and Larry built a campground from scratch in South Dakota. Larry is a level fanatic--it's funny to watch him set up in a spot with his huge level when we are out boondocking. But the sites in their RV park were dead on level--every single site!

    1. Even our auto-levelers in the motorhome don't get us perfectly level so I'm often using the level on the floor and the manual buttons - drives me nuts! Larry's my kind of guy!!

  7. Love that peppermint cactus! Isn't the blooming desert a treat? Beautiful vistas and not a person in sight...heaven!

    Looking forward to seeing you two on Sunday!

    1. So many different blooms and colors - we're loving it!

      Can't wait :-)))

  8. Was that vent pipe for a mine? That's weird it doesn't have some sort of vent cover over it. Tessa is as adorable as ever in that photo. 😊

    1. No signs of mines in that area at all, no tailings or equipment or structures. It was literally in the middle of the desert. I figured it would be filled in with dirt, but it was open as far as the beam would go. Creepy!

      She does do cute very well :D

  9. What a great reason to have a jeep. The desert was quite colorful on your visit. Your photos are wonderful! The I-15 traffic reminds me of our local freeway traffic on Sunday afternoons. Going west on I-80 can get crazy with the weekenders going back to the Bay Area.

    1. I'm just so grateful we can watch it from afar and don't "have to" be anywhere on heavy travel days :)

  10. The colors in the desert are amazing! I keep reading about the bloom this year and sad we are missing it!

    1. I wish we had seen more of it, but what we've seen has been beautiful.

  11. Love this area. Always try to see Kelso Depot and walk the Ring Trail in Mojave Preserve. The campground there has plenty of sites large enough for a 40 foot RV. Our toads are Jeeps too.

    1. Have yet to see the Depot after many years of traveling this area - seems we're always on one end or the other and don't make it back to middle :-) Jeeps definitely make wonderful toads - we can't imagine not having it!