Ahhh . . . the sounds of silence.
It’s Sunday afternoon and Owl Canyon Campground in southern California (north of Barstow) is almost empty again. Quite a difference from yesterday! Last night I counted 53 tents (most sheltering two people), six or seven homes-on-wheels, and one yurt!
In addition to the group of university students and the “spiritual gathering” group, a troop of boy scouts set up camp for the weekend. Fortunately most campers were off exploring the area during the day, and in the evening it was cool enough that I could keep the windows closed, shutting out most of the noise.
The photos you see in this post are views around our new campsite, the best site here in my opinion. It’s away from where groups tend to camp, and, as you can see, the views are outstanding. As soon as the site was vacated this morning, the PTV scooted in!
The crew and I meet a couple of Californians, Randy and Karen, who come out to Owl Canyon on weekends.
When Bridget, Spike, and I first approach their campsite, three rat terriers come out to meet the crew! Oh what excitement!
Spike is thrilled to make pals with Pearl, Pixie, and Rattles.
He hops around, posturing “Let’s play!” Even Bridget joins in.
Later, at our campsite, while I’m showing Randy and Karen the crew’s fold-up pen, the BLM ranger comes by.
Owl Canyon Campground doesn’t have a camp host at this time, so Jim comes by to collect the money and check up on things.
He notices the university group, which is spread out over several campsites, does not have one pay ticket posted, as specified at the self-pay station. Jim also notes that the spiritual gathering group has five vehicles parked at one site with two tents on it, counting the yurt.
“The campground is designed for individual camping, not for groups,” Jim explains. He asks us if these groups have caused any problems or disturbances, and since they haven’t, other than what can’t be avoided when a lot of people get together, Jim doesn’t see the need to bother them.
Jim sits at the picnic table with us to chat and answer our questions.
Randy is curious about OHV rules in the area. Jim gives us district maps that show the very large area of the desert where OHVs are allowed. On these maps you can see another large area of mixed, private and public, land.
“They have all these trails over here,” he says, pointing to the map. “It would take you forever to go on all these trails, yet they go over into this other limited-use area, right into the private and restricted areas.” He sighs. The plight of the desert tortoises comes to my mind.
Then he tells me news I can use — a free campground!
Jim and his wife stay all year at Sawtooth Canyon Campground which is south of here, off of Highway 247. “It’s a small campground, only eleven sites, and it’s free.” My ears perk up. Jim invites me to the campground but warns, “It’s 3,600 feet so it’s cooler than here.” Hmm . . . It’s 3,000 feet here. How much cooler can it be?
Then he tells us about the little pool he made behind his camper. “I’ve seen a cougar, coyotes with babies, rabbits, chukars . . . All sorts of animals come up to my pool to drink.” It’s obvious that he loves the desert and its wildlife.
Jim shares an interesting point of view with us.
“I’m all for campgrounds. I tell people, if you want to protect the desert, get campgrounds set up. Because once you have a campground, rules are made. You can’t drive OHVs all over. It’s pack it in/pack it out. You can’t disturb the surrounding area. You can’t go burning up creosote bushes, for instance. That sort of thing.”
His theory makes a lot of sense. Then he adds proudly, “Sawtooth Canyon Campground is an example of that. Once we started enforcing camping rules, the plants and animals came back.”
Now that most of the people have cleared out, the crew and I can start exploring.
We’ll go over to climb around and photograph Rainbow Basin. Also the head of a two-mile trail is not far from our campsite. Some other campers we met told us it’s a great hike. It gets pretty warm by eleven o’clock, so the crew and I will set out bright and early. Fun!
Canine Corner: “Love the one you’re with” by Bridget and Spike
“It looks like our new friends have moved on to their next camp. It was nice meeting them, wasn’t it, Spike.”
“Yeah, that Rattles is a cool guy. And Pearl is so . . . I don’t know, laid back. But the one I really like is Pixie. What a doll! I could go for her in a big way.”
“Spike! What’s the matter with you! Pixie is too young for you. If you’re gonna’ go around making a fool of yourself, it should be over Pearl. At least she’s more your age.”
“Aw, Bridget. You’re jealous.”
“Well, get real, Spike. Anyway, you’ll never see that Pixie or any of them ever again. You know how the song goes . . . LOVE THE ONE YOU’RE WITH!”
“Ya’ got me there, Bridge.”
Spikey, you might have a hard time keeping up with that young Pixie….
Gorgeous pictures again, Sue!!!!!
Thanks, Chuck. This is a great location for a campground. I almost had a heart attack watching the boy scouts climb these steep and high rock formations. They had so much fun!
Nice pics…..looks like the babies made some new friends. Safe travels and enjoy.
Glad you like the pics, Pat. It was a great day for rat terriers at Owl Canyon Campground!
I hate to say that Ranger Jim is right about having to make rules and campgrounds because some idiots can’t think for themselves about how to respect the land. What a grand party for you and the dogs.
I enjoyed listening to Ranger Jim. He’s very knowledgeable of this area. Yes, unfortunately some people are a blight, plain and simple. (That’s blight, not bright!)
I have to agree It’s great that Ranger Jim let you know about the free area @ Sawtouth Canyon Campground.
It is unfortunate that rules have to be made and enforcerced…it takes a very few to screw it up for general public.. See PM on City of Rock. Chuckles
LoL Sue with Spike thinking himself the real cool dude and Bridget putting him in his place!!! Love the one your’re with……such good advice Bridget!!! Sue…………excuse my ignorance, but what on earth is a “Yurt”??
I’m calling the structure shown in the previous post a yurt, because a yurt is a portable building made from wood slats. Yurts originate from nomadic people. The photo shows some of the slats covered with white fabric.
Glad you asked, Glenda. Now we both know 🙂
Looks like a beautiful place to camp for awhile – I’m especially jealous that you’re dry and warm – I’ll be days drying out my Escape trailer after this weekend! I’m not at a point where I can take off for the winter (but soon – perhaps next year). Meanwhile, I’m getting great ideas on what stops I should consider!.
It’s great when the crew can spend a little time with fellow terriers – my greyhound Molly was thrilled to meet 5 greyhounds staying at our campground this past weekend.
Hi, Anne! Seems like dogs know their own kind. Six greyhounds must be fun to watch. I can’t remember where you are, apparently somewhere wet!
Ah, Portland! (I looked you up . . . nice blog, nice Escape trailer)
Now I have learned something new from you! Looking forward to checking Sawtooth Canyon! Free is always good. I will wait for your rating!! Thanks!
I did a little research on the Sawtooth Canyon Campground and wonder if Ranger Jim told you that it lies in the very close to a huge OHV area. I have been to this area many times (although not to this campground) and it is 24/7 motorcycle noise. Day and night. Never stops. I would worry about the noise and the controversy of the area. Please be careful. But if Ranger Jim is there full time it may be safe??? I will wait to see what your experience is.
Ranger Jim said the campground is now used mainly by people who hike. Here is the information on OHVs at Sawtooth Canyon:
“The Bureau of Land Management today (May 6, 2011) issued a two-year emergency closure to access by off-highway vehicles (OHV) to the Sawtooth Canyon Campground and surrounding public lands due to increasing non-compliance issues with green sticker vehicles. This emergency closure is effective immediately and is governed by 43 CFR 8341.2. Anyone violating the closure may be fined up to $1,000, receive up to one year in jail, or both.”
Thanks for the links and your concern, Nancy. We shall see . . .
Absolutely wonderful site you have picked out, how fortunate that it was vacated so early in your stay! This scenery is definitely different than my Texas flatland! And how nice that the crew got to meet and play with other rat terriers! How long will you be at this location?
We may stay through next weekend. I hesitate to give out my plans, because I change my mind so much! I’m trying to transition from travel mode to camp mode… no need to move around so much now that we’re on the winter desert loop.
Pixie is a cutie, I can see how a little dog could get smitten 🙂
Adorable dog, I agree. Karen said her sibling was at the pound also, but they couldn’t handle four dogs. Three’s enough! (That’s Pixie’s sibling at the pound, not Karen’s! Ha!)
Amazing places you’re finding to camp, Sue! I had a couple of questions for you: 1) where do you leave your Casita and van when you go home to visit family? Or do you tow it all the way? 2) don’t you have a list of favorite blogs that you read? I’d like to check them out. Thanks!
The PTV and the BLT go with me. Of course, I leave the BLT behind when going short distances, like into town.
My favorite blogs are pretty close to what Al of Travels with the Bayfield Bunch has listed. I’ll let Al do the work of keeping up with a blog roll! Ha!
To tell the truth, by the time I take care of writing a blog entry, editing photos, and putting it all together, plus researching my next camp, weather conditions, etc., I’m ready to do some living, and there’s not much time for reading blogs.
See? We Jim’s are mostly good guys. Glad you survived the onslaught of other “campers”. Keep it moving Sue, you are traveling for me too ya know. Take care of you and the crew and God’s speed.
Hi Jim! When I take photos, I’m thinking of people who visit my blog, including you. I want you to feel like you’re traveling with us.
Three cheers for Ranger Jim! 🙂
Hip hip hooray! Hip hip hooray! Hip hip hooray!
What a great camp site!
The campground is empty now, only one other site is occupied.
Great campsite and I cant wait to see Sawtooth canyon campground !! Free is always good.
Yes, Sawtooth will be interesting… it could be great or it could be not-so-great… That’s the fun of it. You never know until you get there!
Sue, what are the temperatures like there?? You said it gets hot at 11:00? How hot?
It’s not really hot, probably high 80s in the sunshine. In the shade it’s a lot cooler. Sometimes I need a long-sleeved shirt, the breezes are so cool. I don’t hike when the sun is high because a trail could go a long way without shade, exertion is involved, and I wilt very easily and quickly in the sun (former redhead, fair skin, freckles). I have the time, so I do sunshiny things in the morning!
Looks like a great campground Sue with many places to explore. I just love your Canine Corner. 🙂
Every Canine Corner so far, I’ve thought, well, that’s lame, and then people tell me they love it! I’m glad you do!
Sawtooth Canyon looks gorgeous – though with many campers it might get a bit noisy? Ranger Jim sounds an absolute gem. And what fun to get to see a pack of rat Terriers get together for a wee bit of breed-specific fun and frolic. they are lovely dogs. I enjoy stalking you on your adventures. There’s nothing like living vicariously 😉 G
I think you mean Owl Canyon Campground. We haven’t gone to Sawtooth yet.
Sure! Feel free to live vicariously! Thanks for writing.
Loved seeing and hearing about the cute doggies!! These guys as energetic as Jack Russells you think?
We arrived in our temporary dwelling in VA on Friday night late. SO far, so good. Stormy, but we have lived through worse. Landlords say they have a generator if needed…should be past sometime tomorrow however. And that will be good!! So many have it so much worse. Imagine it makes you all the happier to have your home on wheels!!
Elizabeth now in VA (USED to be in NC)
Hi Elizabeth! Good to hear you’re safe and sound.
No, rat terriers are not hyper like Jack Russells.
I have a couple questions for you ?
I see the specs on your solar panel . Your system seems to be working great.
I would love to know more about the rest of your system ,charge controller, batteries and anything else needed to make it work like yours also the price of the parts.
Maybe you can get Mick to post up about the system.
As you know from past post I am gathering parts for my trailer so it sure would help me and would be greatly appreciated .
I will send you my email if you would rather do it off the blog.