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AdventureTaco - turbodb's build and adventures

Discussion in '1st Gen. Builds (1995-2004)' started by turbodb, Apr 4, 2017.

  1. May 10, 2019 at 12:39 PM
    #2241
    turbodb

    turbodb [OP] Well-Known Member

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    Oh, and here I thought you'd added me to your ignore list. ;)

    Missed a fun story I guess. hahahaha
     
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  2. May 10, 2019 at 1:11 PM
    #2242
    m3bassman

    m3bassman Well-Known Member

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    Readers digest:
    Dan discovers OCD
    Dan breaks CV
    Dan fixes CV
    Dan breaks CV
    Dan fixes CV
    Dan curses.

    The end.
     
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  3. May 10, 2019 at 1:33 PM
    #2243
    Digiratus

    Digiratus Adventurer

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    I gave you a reprieve. Only because you did not make my browser crash this time from an overload of too many pictures on a single page. :luvya:
     
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  4. May 10, 2019 at 2:43 PM
    #2244
    turbodb

    turbodb [OP] Well-Known Member

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    Well, I mean. Yeah. :pout:

    But just imagine that ring coming off if you were doing it - you'd think it was crazy too. Probably another vote for your "just take it back to Napa and get a new one" methodology.

    Lesson learned: no one reads without pictures. Nope, that's not right... no one reads, they only look at pictures. There we go, got it.

    Also, have you ignored me multiple times? I thought it was for the 3rd gen... :devil:
     
  5. May 10, 2019 at 3:46 PM
    #2245
    m3bassman

    m3bassman Well-Known Member

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    Believe or not I did rebuild one of my oem rollers years ago. But I have determined the cost of that job in terms of misery and you are right, the the axles are worth it for me. buy once, cry once life time warranty.

    That said I had the rollers fall off mine but didn't have the issues you did. They stayed in place and I slid the rollers back on. Messy and un fun job. Rather do a tb/wp over that job.
     
    Last edited: May 10, 2019
    turbodb [OP] likes this.
  6. May 10, 2019 at 4:01 PM
    #2246
    PcBuilder14

    PcBuilder14 Well-Known Member

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    Is this English???
     
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  7. May 10, 2019 at 4:33 PM
    #2247
    m3bassman

    m3bassman Well-Known Member

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    Somehow my sentences started in the middle of others. This site is a bitch to use since we still haven't upgraded to the version that interfaces with chrome mobile. 13 months and still no fix. Gah.
     
    turbodb [OP] and PcBuilder14 like this.
  8. May 10, 2019 at 9:18 PM
    #2248
    christyle

    christyle 107

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    Alright so it's not just me. My phone randomly picks the middle of words and rewrites things and such. Super annoying!
     
    turbodb [OP] likes this.
  9. May 14, 2019 at 9:56 AM
    #2249
    turbodb

    turbodb [OP] Well-Known Member

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    Alvord Desert - We Return to Explore (Apr 2019)
    April 25, 2019.

    It'd been several weeks since my last trip and as usual that meant I had a bad case of the shakes. Spring is such a frustrating time from an adventure perspective - the weather seems so nice, and yet everywhere interesting is still covered in snow. And, the winter staple - the desert - is getting hot.

    You can imagine my delight when a check of the weather showed that the Alvord Desert - a place we'd visited for the first time last October - was going to have weather in the mid-70's. From my perspective, we hadn't spent nearly enough time there exploring the roads; from @mrs.turbodb's point of view: we'd skipped all of the hot springs!

    The horror, I know.

    We got a late start due to life getting in the way and arrived at the Alvord Playa in southeast Oregon just after 10:00pm. We found the perfect (random) spot two miles from the edge and with no need to level the truck, we quickly got setup - ready for some of the great sleep afforded by our Exped Megamat Duo and for what the next day would bring.

    From the get-go, it didn't disappoint. Not by a long shot.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    I poked around outside the truck for a few minutes, but it wasn't long before I climbed back in - the warmth and snuggles too alluring to keep me on the playa for an extended period. Plus - a secret that only early-risers know - there are two sunrises on the best mornings. There's that orange glow on the horizon that signals the continued existence of the sun, and then an hour later, the actual sunrise!

    And there, now I've let the secret out of the bag.

    While only I got to enjoy the first sunrise of the morning, we both soaked in the second - initially from the comfort of the tent, but shortly after, we were up and about, getting ready for what we thought would be a reasonably relaxed day.

    [​IMG]

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    As the sun rose to the east, "we" got breakfast ready to go, where "we" included me eating the Honey Bunches of Oats with Almonds topped with fresh strawberries. :hungry: To our west, Steens Mountain - still covered in snow - rose a mile above us, a reminder that this wouldn't be our last trip to the area - the highest road in Oregon on our list of places to visit.

    [​IMG]

    While breakfast was prepared, I escaped the title of complete slouch by putting away the tent and breaking down camp. And with our amazing divide-and-conquer teamwork, we were ready to roll out of camp by 8:42am. We had some learning to do when it came to the definition of "relaxed day."

    Our first destination was due east another 3 miles on the far side of the Alvord Playa: Big Sand Gap.

    [​IMG]

    I don't know if anyone actually remembers the last time we visited, but one of the most remarkable things about the Playa is the surreal experience you get when driving on it at high speed. It's so flat, and so vast, that objects in the distance appear stationary while the ground around the truck is flying by. The only reaction I've ever seen to this phenomenon is a big-old-smile, and that's what happened this time as well, as dust kicked up behind us, hanging in the still air - a Taco contrail.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    To @mrs.turbodb's delight, we both took turns making dust before turning east again - Steens Mountain rising up behind us.

    [​IMG]

    The Alvord Playa is among the largest playas in all of Oregon. Formed when rain water falls, fills shallow depressions in the landscape, and then evaporates, this flat basin is a called a graben - a basin down-dropped by faulting around it. In this case, it's approximately 8 miles east-west and 70 miles north-south - though the "drive-it-like-you-stole-it" lake bed is really more like 5-by-10 miles - and marks the easternmost border of Oregon's Basin and Range, which is slowly extending westward. This movement, due to active faulting in the Alvord Desert has uplifted and tilted the surrounding ranges - Steens Mountain, etc. - leaving any water that enters the Alvord Playa to escape only via evaporation.

    Our goal for the morning was to head to the eastern edge - to Big Sand Gap - where 13,000-14,000 years ago the water burst through the lake's rim and sent some 40,000 cubic yards per second of water down the drainage of Crooked Creek and into the Owyhee River, dramatically lowering the lake level.

    [​IMG]

    We found a spot to park next to some horse hitching posts near the edge of the Playa and headed off, another two miles of flat sandy ground to cover before we reached the gap. Of course, to us it looked like a half-mile or so - distances in this desert, like Death Valley, messing with our internal range finders.

    [​IMG]

    As has been the case on several trips so far this year, we hit this one at just the right time to get a completely unnatural experience - green. It was spring in the desert and not only was there green grass in place of the normally golden grass on the surrounding hills, but there were wildflowers bursting out of every hole.

    Some of them fragrant. In a good way, not like my feet.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    We made quick work of the two miles as we followed wild horse trails to the gap, stopping now and then to empty the fine sand out of our shoes.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    To our surprise, the first thing we noticed upon our arrival was a road. I'd done quite a bit of research prior to the trip on the various roads around the Playa, and there were several that we were planning on exploring over the course of the next couple days. But nowhere had I found this road.

    We ignored my oversight like you might a second-favorite-child, and added it to our list for the next day as we headed up the southern cliff to get a view of where we'd been.

    [​IMG]

    It was a great one, and we enjoyed it - albeit gingerly, the rocks top of the cliff literally teetering on the edge of what was quite clearly an active fault.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    As we climbed around, several species of lizard kept us company. This was even more exciting for me than the view, because I'm strange. I've always been fascinated by lizards, catching them every chance I get. It goes over really well with anyone who isn't squeamish about lizards - and especially @mini.turbodb, so that's good.

    First, we saw a pretty-standard-nothing-to-really-get-all-excited-about but larger-than-normal blue belly lizard. Technically a Western Fence Lizard, though this guy was far from the nearest fence. Oh, and it scared the begeezus out of @mrs.turbodb as it scurried out from under her feet.

    [​IMG]

    Next was the coolest lizard - a Desert Horned Lizard. I've never seen one of these in the wild before, so when I noticed it, I can only describe it as being like a kid in a lizard store - pretty pumped.

    Others may say easily entertained.

    [​IMG]

    Finally, as we were heading down - actually, I think I was bringing up the rear at this point - I noticed this guy out of the corner of my eye. It was huge - close to 15-inches long, I initially thought it might be an alligator lizard, but unlike any I'd seen before.

    Turns out no, it was a Great Basin Collard Lizard. As if anyone but me cares, right? :wink:

    [​IMG]

    OK, enough about lizards - I know that no one is here for that. We headed back to the truck and decided that our next order of business should be to drive back to Big Sand Gap. That's what any good American would do - it's American Hiking™.

    So, with a bit of driving along the edge of the Playa, we found the road and bombed our way up to the gap to take in the view. Our plan was to eat lunch there as well, but there were swarms of mosquitoes that put the kibosh on that idea quickly.

    [​IMG]

    But, we were hungry and we'd been here just an hour earlier, so we figured a good next step would be to find a place to eat lunch - perhaps across the Playa at the Alvord Hot Springs - a place that @mrs.turbodb was determined to visit this time, having skipped it on our first trip last year. Only a few miles away, we were making great time across the Playa until I slammed on the brakes.

    Just in the nick of time I'd noticed - or we'd noticed - I don't really know who noticed, water on the Playa. Driving into that could have been a trip-ending disaster - the mud easily reaching depths of 18" or more. The water seemed to extend all the way to the hot springs, once again stymieing plans for a dip - OK by me at that point, since who really wants to get in some hot water under the blazing mid-day sun.

    Instead, we found ourselves a nice little private spot in the middle of the Playa and I setup the tent (for some shade) as a delicious lunch of turkey-salami sandwiches was made out of the ARB fridge - still one of the best things I think we've ever bought for adventuring.

    [​IMG]

    Lunch devoured, we did what only the most intelligent would do - we looked up above us and saw a deployed tent and a warm afternoon. Time for a nap! This was the life. We were actually doing it. We were having a reasonably relaxed day.

    Well, for 90 minutes anyway. That's when we were awoken by a couple guys on bicycles who were riding around the truck in circles, trying to figure out what the tent was. Not that it says "Cascadia Vehicle Tent" on it anywhere.

    Except on every side. :evil:

    Roused from our nap and unable to contain our reasonable relaxation, we decided we'd get a jump on the next day's adventures and go explore the northern portion of the Alvord Desert. We'd gotten a quick look at this the last time we'd passed through, but there were a couple things we really wanted to explore:
    1. Crippled Horse Spring - we'd driven by Mickey Basin as we were looking for a way out last time, but running short on time and fuel we weren't able to look around.
    2. The East Entrance to Alvord Playa - I'd found a road that theoretically entered the Playa at the northeast. Seemed like a fun adventure if we could find it.
    On our way to Crippled Horse Spring, we made a quick pit stop at Mickey Hot Springs - too hot to take a dip at 180°F, there are some amazing colors, bubbling mud, and even the occasional geyser here - a worthy hour of discovery if you haven't been before.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    We'd seen this the last time though, and with another couple already there enjoying the solitude, we pushed on - excited for what we were sure was a much larger hot spring in Crippled Horse Spring. See, the last time we'd been through, we'd seen a huge cloud of steam rising from the playa. It was so large that at first we thought it was someone driving - or doing donuts - on the dusty ground, but as we got closer, there were no vehicles.

    This time, we parked the truck as close as we could to what little steam we could see and headed out on foot. It was going to be great.

    [​IMG]

    Distances were once again deceiving and we had a mile or so to go before we got to the location of the steam. Except that when we got there, all we found was dried mud. Cool looking for sure, but not the spectacular pool of bubbling water that we'd worked ourselves up over.

    [​IMG]

    Sure that we'd simply missed it, we each explored in our own directions for a few minutes until... nothing. What the heck was going on? Were we crazy? (don't answer that!)

    And then, as the wind whipped across the dry lake bed, we knew we'd been had.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Dust Devils. :rofl: :facepalm:

    Go figure. On our way back to the truck we summited a small mound in the middle of the playa to find Harry's Place - a memorial to Harry Webb - some dude who really liked it out here. Who could blame him, really?

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    By now, afternoon was turning to evening and we still had quite a few miles of unknown ahead of us if we were going to reach the east entrance to the Alvord Playa, so we high-tailed it out of there and back to the truck where we continued east, looking for the road that would carry us south and then west again, Steens Mountain still looming behind us for the time being.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

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    We bombed along - a combination of the reasonably maintained roads, reasonably small amounts of rain - less than 7" falling here annually, and recently adjusted ADS coilovers on the truck. I'd removed about ⅓ of the preload and boy, did that make the ride so much better than it had been on the last trip! Eventually, we came to some ranching cabins and stopped in for a look.

    [​IMG]

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    With that, we headed south and west - the road not as well maintained in places, but still nothing that a little speed didn't smooth out. It won't be long before my snails pace reputation is no longer really applicable. and I can only imagine that that'll mean for truck maintenance costs. Dang.

    The views were fabtacular.

    [​IMG]

    And then, as we were on our way down over the last pass into the Alvord Playa - less than 2 miles to the flat speedway that we could take to the hot springs and another so-out-in-the-open-it's-private camp site - we hit a bit of a problem. Those 7" of rain - over the last year or two or five - had washed out the road something fierce.

    And yes, I realize it doesn't look all that bad in the photos. I should have had @mrs.turbodb go stand in the ditch, to give it a bit of scale. We're talking armpit level here for her in places.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    We tried to skirt around, but I realized after walking a half mile further down the road that while we might be able to skirt around to get down, if we ran into something else closer to the Playa, it could have been nearly impossible to climb back up onto the shoulder to get back out - the soft, sandy soil offering little traction to a beast as heavy as the Tacoma.

    [​IMG]

    So we made the disappointing call to turn around. Well, not to actually turn around - there was nowhere to do that - but to back up the side of the road until we cleared the washout, and then turn around. Then, already after 6:45pm, it was a suspension-cycling mad-dash back the way we'd come. We had a lot of miles to cover, and we preferred to do it with at least some daylight so as to avoid any deer-across-the-road situations.

    Reasonably calm wind-wise, our dust lingered on the road behind us as the sky started to change color.

    [​IMG]

    We sped west, and then north - the green tundra as far as the eye could see. Pronghorn bouncing away (good) as the miles ticked by. A small herd of wild horses also distancing themselves from the trail of dust we left in our wake.

    We didn't make it back before sunset - which we enjoyed from the truck - but it wasn't long after that we pulled into the parking lot for Alvord Hot Springs and forked over the small (depending on who you ask) entrance fee to take a soak in the warm water.

    [​IMG]

    It had been a full day - full of great highlights, near disasters, and turn-around-and-go-back-the-way-you-came failures. And a nap. We need more naps on trips.

    We soaked for 30 minutes or so before heading out to our place on the Playa to setup camp and make dinner - tacos with guac - before calling it a night and climbing into bed. As the wind picked up around us, we hoped our earplugs would be enough to keep the flapping at bay, allowing us to be well rested for the next day.

    Because we'd only planned one reasonably relaxing day for this trip...
     
  10. May 14, 2019 at 10:30 AM
    #2250
    Goran

    Goran Well-Known Member

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    Do you post your routes anywhere? or is this secret information :spy:

    Edit: Love the trip reports, keep it up!
     
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  11. May 14, 2019 at 10:40 AM
    #2251
    m3bassman

    m3bassman Well-Known Member

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    Something about that place that taking a mid day nap is the bees knees. We had a little breeze and it was SILENT. Loved it. 10/10 would recommend.
     
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  12. May 14, 2019 at 10:46 AM
    #2252
    TACOVRD

    TACOVRD I Identify As A Prius

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  13. May 14, 2019 at 1:08 PM
    #2253
    turbodb

    turbodb [OP] Well-Known Member

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    AdventureTaco
    Glad you're enjoying the reports - it's fun putting going and doing them, and figuring out how to write everything up, so it's nice when folks enjoy!

    As far as detailed GPX/KML, no - I don't post those anywhere. But, the info is available online and in the write-ups without too much work. :pccoffee:

    Might I recommend this series of posts, which will give you more than enough info to build your own track, and some reasoning behind not sharing the GPX directly: https://adventuretaco.com/tag/route-planning/?order=asc

    So true. The nap was really great that day; wish we could have repeated it.

    :thumbsup:. Love your sig.
     
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  14. May 14, 2019 at 1:30 PM
    #2254
    BKinzey

    BKinzey Well-Known Member

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    Your posting of your first trip to the Alvord had an influence on my travels. Over the years I've travelled through Eastern Oregon several times. Been to, and seen, the Steens Mountains before but I never travelled that close to the Eastern side. I thought next time I had the opportunity I'd check it out. That opportunity was in April and it was well worth the trip. Thanks.
    Alvord Desert 4-4-2019.jpg
    I guess I beat your second trip by a couple weeks.

    I came in from the North as I had spent the night at Mann Lake Campground. A decent spot, certainly since I got there in the dark and had little idea of where I wanted to go for the next day, but I didn't want to backtrack. I spent the next day in the area and could see easily spending more and a little better planning would help.

    I drove out to Mickey Hot Springs. I like seeing water steam & bubble out of the ground so that was worth it. Continued on past it and thought it is certainly worth exploring if I had the time. But I just had the day.

    I returned to the Fields-Denio Highway by just picking a return route that showed up on my GPS. There are several that show up, and several that don't. Navigation is fairly simple when you know the highway is between you and the Steens.

    Headed South to the Alvord Hot Springs. Didn't partake in a soak but I did pay the $5 fee to drive out onto the bed where I took the posted pic. If I had driven a few miles South there is at least one free road you can enter from but I chalked it off to supporting a small business enterprise. Pay attention to the driving from dry to wet caution. I did it too, it's a very slow transition and hair raising wondering if you went too far out. Thankfully I hit it at an angle and just angled my way out. Didn't stop or dig into a turn. :eek::anonymous:

    Stopped at Frog Springs along side the Highway and finally went out to the Borax Lake to see where they used to extract Borax. You can drive almost to some old rusty tanks, there is a locked gate where you can hike out the old road/trail. Lots of hot water pools to avoid stepping in.

    Saw plenty of lizards, no Horny Toads, several Antelope.

    Geeze, I was going to post "I was there too and here's a pic" and ended up with more of a trip report. :oops::hattip:
     
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  15. May 14, 2019 at 2:18 PM
    #2255
    vonellis

    vonellis Well-Known Member

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    Story time is my favorite time:thumbsup:
    Always good write ups !!
     
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  16. May 15, 2019 at 10:42 AM
    #2256
    turbodb

    turbodb [OP] Well-Known Member

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    Alvord Desert 2 - We Don't Want to Pull Anyone Out
    April 26, 2019.

    I don't know what the deal is exactly, but it seems that last year was a year of trips with rain and snow, and this year - at least so far - it's all about the wind. It was so windy through the night that at some point I closed the door to the tent just to give us a bit of a reprieve from the insidious cold that kept pushing it's way under our comforters.

    As the sun rose, so did the wind speeds - clouds zooming across the sky, Earth's natural kaleidoscope. I popped out for as long as I could muster - the wind whipping through the only long sleeves I'd brought on the trip, a light sweatshirt.

    Always prepared, this one. :frusty:

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    In the end, we could only wait so long for the wind to die down - which it never did - before rousing ourselves out of bed to what was clearly going to be another beautiful day. We repeated our morning routine, splitting the breakfast and tent tasks, as the Playa seemingly blew away in front of us.

    And that folks, is why there's so much sand at the Big Sand Gap that we'd visited the previous day.

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    As we wrapped up the last of our packing and I went to turn the temp on the fridge down - I normally turn it up at night to reduce battery usage when the truck isn't running - I noticed the display wasn't even on.

    Uh oh.

    Without a fridge, our food wouldn't last long - this could be the end of the trip if I couldn't get it figured out. Luckily, reasonably quickly, I found the leading candidate for what was causing the problem - the power cord had gotten stuck in the pull-out drawer slide and I could see where it'd been severely sliced.

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    Hoping nothing had been fried in the fridge itself, I checked the fuse on the cord - it was fine. Next, I checked for power at the distribution box in the bed - and there was nothing! Hopeful that it was just a fuse in the Bussman, I popped the hood and pulled a few fuses before finding one that was in fact fried.

    Well, that was good news. Now the question was - did I have a spare?

    It required a trip into the bowels of the OSK, but luckily I was able to pull out one 7.5A fuse and pop it into the circuit - disaster avoided, and a good reminder for me to stock a few more fuses in case something like this happens again. I temporarily patched up the cord as well and we were off the dusty Playa and on our way - the day's adventure off to an early start.

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    Still aired down from the day before, we made our way somewhat slowly south to the tiny town of Fields, OR. The only fuel for a hundred miles in any direction, we pulled in on fumes - the gas light in the truck having illuminated 27 miles earlier! Of course, we'd have been fine given the extra 10 gallons on the rear bumper, but it's always more convenient to just use the pump.

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    Fields Station is a well-known hangout in these parts, and even at 9:00am in the morning, it was was hopping - breakfast at the attached diner in full swing. As we fueled up at nearly $4/gallon, I even momentarily considered one of their famously delicious thick milkshakes - something @mrs.turbodb had referenced several times in the various books she'd brought on the area. Alas, it was early and we'd just eaten, so we passed as we got on our way - our next destination out a nearby powerline road: Borax Lake and it's hot springs.

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    As we neared the parking area, the sight of a couple vehicles was initially a bit disappointing - after all, we were in the middle of nowhere and were expecting to have the place to ourselves. As we got closer and eventually pulled along side, I think we ultimately felt a little better knowing that - at least - we were with family. :wink:

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    The day getting sunnier (but still windy) by the minute, we set out from the truck towards Borax Lake. Fed by geothermal (hot) springs, this lake is 10-acres of 100°F water - perfect for a dip until you discover that it's got extremely high concentrations of not only borax, but also arsenic and lead! Still, though it's not something that we'd want to swim in, the Borax Lake chub fish - found only here - calls the lake home, having adapted to the warmer temps and high concentrations of toxins.

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    The geothermal activity of the site has resulted in the lake being uphill from the surrounding area - the lake essentially sitting on top of a hill of borax that has been pumped out of the ground, the lake itself contained within short borax walls. Accumulating at somewhere near 150 tons/year, it looks like there's snow on the ground, likely what drew the Rose Valley Borax mining company to the area in 1892. For 10 years, Chinese laborers gathered borax from the ground, mixed it in long boiling vats with water to purify it, and then transported it via mule team wagons to Winnemucca, NV.

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    As cool as all that was though, it wasn't why we were really here. We were really here because there are also a series of hot springs - and @mrs.turbodb loves hot springs. Extending for nearly a mile north of the lake, these springs aren't ones that you can take a dip in - they have the same arsenic and lead concentrations as the lake, and are 170°F to boot - but they are cool to look at, the water bubbling up out of the ground, sides of some springs dropping sharply into pools large enough to boil the unfortunate human or pet that might fall in.

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    Perhaps our favorite spring however was one that had an internal bridge - I assume, the minerals having accumulated over the years on some sort of existing rock structure.

    We spend a good hour-and-a-half exploring the hot springs before deciding that it might be good to get a move on - the rest of our day uncertain from a mileage perspective. See, our plan - like the day before - was to explore some roads to the east of Alvord Playa. This time we'd be south instead of north, and we hoped to find a route to re-enter the Playa on the road we'd seen at Big Sand Gap.

    Oh, and there was another set of hot springs that I was told we were visiting. Or at least strongly encouraged...which as we all know is really the same thing. :smack:

    So, we headed back to the truck.

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    From here, we followed the power line road east for many miles, winding our way up into the hills and ultimately onto the Columbia Plateau - spring clearly here, the landscape around us and uncanny green for the desert.

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    With nothing but rolling green hills around us, we made good time - our usual modus operandi of stop-every-couple-hundred-feet-for-photos, unnecessary. We did however spot several large cairns at the top of a few of the taller hills - markers perhaps for the desert trail. Or, left by aliens - instructing those that would come later that, "there's nothing here."

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    It was a bit before 1:00pm when the road we were on brought us to the edge of a corral - the land all BLM, but as is often the case, leased to ranchers for cattle grazing. There were no cattle here today, and as we scooted around the edge of the barb wire fence - our windows open to enjoy the cool breeze - the smell was amazing.

    Yeah, I know that sounds weird. I mean, given how I set that up, you're probably thinking it smelled like cow shit. :poking:

    Get your head out of the gutter. It smelled like wildflowers. Little purple ones. They were everywhere. I promptly ran some over - to capture the moment.

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    And then we were off again, the other side of the corral joining up with what can only be described as a gravel super-highway in the middle of nowhere. We clearly need to get the engineers of this road to check out some of the highways in our neck of the woods - our pavement isn't as nice as these roads were.

    Which meant that before long we'd reached Willow Creek Hot Springs, the location that had been suggested to me as one we might want to visit. I can't say this enough for the youngin's - those are code words for "or else."

    As it turns out, Willow Creek Hot Springs was a very pleasant place. Reasonably un-populated, we had the slightly-developed but un-maintained 104°F spring to ourselves, and we enjoyed some amazing turkey sandwiches, chips, and fruit to boot.

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    Refreshed and refueled, we popped back onto the gravel for a few quick miles to the fork for our next destination - a faint road we'd traced from Big Sand Gap, back to the Whitehorse Ranch. We didn't know if it still really existed or was passable, but we were keen to find out.

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    The Whitehorse Ranch was started in 1869 by John S. Devine, the first permanent settler in what is now Harney County, OR. Often dressed in the flamboyant Spanish grandee style including silver-studded leather riding gear, he - perhaps obviously - rode a white horse as he managed the herd. It's changed hands several times since, and eventually partnered with the BLM to more sustainably manage the lands that were used for grazing.

    And, after covering the first couple miles of road from the ranch, it was clear that we were definitely the first to travel the road this year, and perhaps the first in several years - it's tracks faint as it wound its way over the landscape.

    Yes internet trolls, this is in fact the road.

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    While faint, we were seriously impressed by the reasonable condition of the track - my guess is that out here there isn't much that erodes a track once it's been created; there are no hillsides for rocks to slide down and onto the road; tree (roots) are nowhere to be found. As such, even with a faint track, it wasn't a rough ride and we were enjoying ourselves as we got closer and closer to our ultimate goal.

    Our hope of course was that today would be different than yesterday - that we'd make it all the way back to Alvord Playa.

    Well, today would be different than yesterday, but not in a good way.

    50 miles into our day, and 4 miles from the Playa, there was water across the road. And by water, I mean a running creek that was more like a 4" deep lake, a quarter- to half-mile wide. I mean, it was a lot of water. Smartly, I stopped. I got out of the truck to take a closer look.

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    Now - it's not like we hadn't been through water up to this point - there'd been mud puddles, and even a 50-foot long, 4" deep creek crossing that we'd driven through. But this looked hairier - we couldn't see the other side. And, we were 8 miles from the Whitehorse Ranch at this point - so if we needed rescue, it was quite a hike away.

    Smartly - again - we made the decision that it was just too risky. As a single truck, if we got stuck somewhere in the middle, we would be screwed. No trees to winch off of, no buddy to pull us out.

    And then - un-smartly - I decided to pull forward just a few more feet. It was immediately evident that I'd screwed up - the entire driver side of the truck sinking 10" or so into the muck on the very edge of the creek-lake, the ground so saturated that it couldn't support any weight at all.

    I threw it in 4Lo and reverse and attempted to back out...

    Uh oh.

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    Wheel spin. And more sinking. I stopped. I knew - this could be bad. I looked over at @mrs.turbodb and said something along the lines of, "I'm going to need your help. Gather all the sage brush you can and start making a big pile."

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    With that, as fast as I could, I changed out of my running shoes and into my Muck boots and stepped out into the wet clay. I grabbed the shovel and started digging behind the front and rear wheels - each shovel full requiring all I could muster, the suction of the wet clay so great.

    My heart was racing, the adrenaline coursing through my system.

    A foot or two dug out behind the front and rear tires, I shoved as much dead sage as I could into the holes for traction and hoped it was enough - I knew I didn't have many chances to get this solved, the truck continuing to sink all the time, and each attempt to free the truck digging further down as the tires spun.

    I started the engine. I was already in 4Lo, and I also engaged the front and rear lockers, hoping that the passenger tires which were on slightly firmer ground would be enough to pull the truck out.

    Nope. More wheel spin. And more sinking. The front wheel was now up just above the center cap (which is still visible in the photos above) and the rear axle was just touching the water.

    We were well past "shit" at this point on the cuss-o-meter, and the camera was long forgotten. Sorry. :sorry:

    To @mrs.turbodb, I said, "I'm going to give this one more try, and if it doesn't work, we're going to have to walk back. If I sink it any further, it's going to be hard to even pull it out with another truck. Keep collecting more sage."

    And with that, I started digging more. I dug in 2' front of the tires, 8' in back of the tires, and all along the sides of the wheels, trying to free them from the suction of the mud as much as possible. and I shoved as much sage as I could down into these channels - hoping that if I could just get out of the holes and onto the brush, that it'd provide enough support to move the truck the requisite 15' back to firmer ground.

    I climbed in, started the truck, and put it in reverse. The tires spun. :censored: I put it in first and pulled forward slightly. Then, as the truck started sliding back, I threw it in reverse and gave it some juice. Mud was flying, the tires finding the smallest amount of traction - and then, against all odds, a bit more.

    And what seemed like minutes, but was likely just a few seconds, more traction and the front of the truck lifted. We were out. My arms raised in victory I hopped out of the truck, the first words out of my mouth - "I've got so much adrenaline, I'm shaking."

    The aftermath told the story - we'd narrowly avoided disaster.

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    And now we were happy to turn around. Never-mind that we'd driven 50 miles and had only a few to go. Never-mind that the same thing had happened yesterday. We wanted nothing more to do with this section of road at this time of year, and we high-tailed it back to the Whitehorse Ranch.

    There, we ran into a couple of ranchers and inquired about the road to Big Sand Gap - "Does it go through? Is it passable?"

    "It does go through, but it's not passable right now - way too wet up there." they said - "You don't want to get stuck in that, and we don't want to pull anyone out!"

    Sure made us glad that we hadn't walked back to the ranch in need of a tug!

    And with that, we found our way back to the Alvord Playa - it'd be our third and last night on the vast lake bed, and I think we were both looking forward to taking it easy.

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    Of course, by the time we arrived, @mrs.turbodb's adrenaline rush had crashed and she'd squeezed in a 45 minute nap. I also didn't really know what we'd do until it got dark, so we decided a nearby hike up Pike Creek was in order.

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    Along the western side of the Playa, Pike Creek was an old (failed) Uranium mine, and now offers stunning afternoon views of the Playa and some cool geology to boot. Plus, on the scale of boring-to-crazy, we'd had our fill of crazy for the day.

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    Perhaps predictably however, Pike Creek was raging - spring run-off from Steens mountain swelling it beyond its usually narrow channel, and our hike turned out to be more of a 30 minute stroll - not enough to make much of a dent in our evening.

    So we did what any insane couple would do - we decided this would be the perfect time to see if we could find the west side of the road that we'd been stymied on the previous day. And if we could, then we wondered how close we could get to where the road had been so washed out that we had to turn around.

    Had we even needed to turn around?!?

    We raced along the eastern edge of the Playa, enjoying the perfectly flat ground and high speeds once again - it really never gets old. And - low-and-behold - nestled in the greasewood bushes, we found the end of the road!

    Cognizant of the possibility of mud, we proceeded forward - slowly. And then, water! Perhaps understandably a bit cautious, I wasn't taking any chances - I got out of the truck and put on the boots. It was time to walk.

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    Could we have made it? Maybe. Did we consider trying? Nope.

    The water seemed to extend for a good quarter mile or more, and it was clear to me that we'd have been in just as bad a position this time as we'd been just a few hours earlier. I was over that and @mrs.turbodb was cool without a second incident as well. So we once again turned around - the road and unfinished loose end that we will return to another time; and validation that we'd most definitely made the right call the day before.

    Back out on the Playa, we found a secluded spot out in the open and I got to setting up camp while a dinner of lamb stew was prepped on the stove. As we ate our meal and gazed west towards Big Sand Gap, the last of the sun retreated over the land and up the hills.

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    It had been a long day. More eventful than we'd imagined when we'd set out; more than we'd really wanted. And yet, here we were, having survived it all, taking in the now purple sky over Steens Mountain.

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    I wouldn't have changed it for anything. And we still had another day - with some 100 miles of unscouted dirt roads between us and Hart Mountain National Antelope Wildlife Refuge - to go!
     
  17. May 15, 2019 at 10:53 AM
    #2257
    m3bassman

    m3bassman Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2011
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    You should invest in some traction boards. I've used them to recover several stuck trucks and their value can't be understated.
     
    LTDSC, Bandido, MR E30 and 4 others like this.
  18. May 15, 2019 at 11:08 AM
    #2258
    OneWheelPeel

    OneWheelPeel Well-Known Member

    Joined:
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    Awesome report, South east Oregon and Northern Nevada are goregous this time of the year! Thanks for taking the time to share!
     
    SilverBulletII and turbodb [OP] like this.
  19. May 15, 2019 at 11:11 AM
    #2259
    turbodb

    turbodb [OP] Well-Known Member

    Joined:
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    PNW
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    AdventureTaco
    Sounds like a great time. We had a blast at Borax Lake as well as you can read above - very cool to see all the springs there, and to walk up to a huge lake that's at 100°F! Wish we could have gone in...but not sure the Arsenic would have been good for us!

    Thanks! Glad you're enjoying. :thumbsup:

    Yes, well... that's sort of what I said in my rig review for this trip (that I haven't yet posted but where you will be able make this same comment again :p). I mean, trade-offs of course, but they'd have been handy a couple times now. Still, didn't actually need them, obviously. But then, what if I did actually need them? Well, you see my predicament. :rofl:

    Thanks! Glad you've enjoyed it so far. The next part of this one is my favorite! :fistbump:
     
    Area51Runner and Seabass like this.
  20. May 15, 2019 at 11:19 AM
    #2260
    Speedytech7

    Speedytech7 Toyota Cult Ombudsman

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    I've done a mod or two
    Not really, buy the things, stash em somewheres and proceed not to worry about it again.
     

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