My life is an adventure, 2000 Suburban is the vessel


Space Monkey
Death Valley Day Trip!

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The weather is becoming warmer and our trips to Death Valley are going to become more rare, with this said we ventured off to explore two canyons that are accessed off the West End Rd on the west side of Badwater Basin.

We pulled 1/4 mile off the pavement to air down the trucks.

Boys were let loose to explore the area just outside Devil's Gold Course.

Boys recovered from their two hour drive and trucks ready we headed several miles south on West End Rd until we reached our first trail: Trail Canyon.

We climbed approximately one vertical mile up a never-ending wash for what seemed like an eternity and were rewarded with a mining camp to explore. 37" tires and 2wd on the Jeep trail where the Jeep and 4Runner crawled in 4low I had a 25 minute head start on enjoying the destination while waiting for the other two. (they were much quicker on the way down)

All three of us at the end of the road.

One of many cabins in Death Valley that is maintained for tourists to use.

Old rake outside the cabin.

Custom made stove in the cabin to keep warm in the winter.

Refreshments for future visitors.

Pretty floor wallpaper.

Old battery for an electric fence.

Old shop with lots of supplies for the mining operation.

Closer look at the shop bench.

Bunk house.

Inside of the bunk house with a grand fireplace.

Bunkhouse kitchen.

Ore hopper.

Better view of the hopper and foundation of a what used to be a refinery or processing plant.

Remains of a tower and a cart from an aerial tramway.

Aerial ore cart.

More adventures continued in the next post.


Space Monkey
Death Valley Day Trip! Continued from previous post.

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Pile of trash just outside the mining camp.

Found this little gem at nearly 6,000 above sea level, 1950 Buick Super, thanx to AlexCold for identifying!

Side view of the sedan.

This was all my touch, adding a snorkel to a junk yard relic.

Great trip but we spent so much time exploring that did not get to all the canyons that I planned n doing in one day.


Space Monkey
Nutter Twists Rd adventure!

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I have done several trails in Grand Canyon-Prarashant National Monument, however one has captured my imagination more than any others: Nutter Twists Rd. There is very little information on this trail and lots of misguided information. No idea how the trail gets it's name however it's a favorite among the enduro/motorcycle adventure rider community. If you look for it on Google maps it highlights BLM1003 however names the cut off BLM1003 to Grand Gulch Mine as the trail which is incorrect.

We started our day in Bunkerville, filled up with gas, aired down the tires and headed south on SR242.

First section of the drive was up Limekiln Pass topping out around 4,800ft. Super fun twisty mountain road that has a surprising vista around every corner.

On the way down from the pass we took a quick side trail to Red Pocket.

View from the other side of the pond.

Lush vegetation.

Boys throwing sticks and rocks into the pond.

This is the only advantage a lift-gate has over barn doors: instant shade. It would have been real fun to set up a roof rack mounted awning in 35mph winds with gusts upto 55mph.

Apres lunch rock climbing.

Little one is confused as to which truck to get into after lunch, even though its a great looking Jeep.

Whats left of a wind powered water well.

Water tank and corral.

Sun is so hot here in the summer that even the red rock gets burnt and has a lava rock black color to it.

Did a couple miles on the legendary Honeymoon Trail before turning off to Nutter Twists!

We are really in the middle of nowhere in the Arizona Strip region.

The real adventure is about to begin as we enter Hidden Canyon via Nutter Twists Rd.

Nutter Twists Rd also known as BLM1003

Finished the technical section and taking a break at the cut off to Grand Gulch Mine.

Somewhere near the middle of the trail.

Middle portion of the trail consisted of numerous wash crossings, most shallow and mellow, however I did misjudge one and accidentally dropped of a 4ft ledge, no pictures but I was shooting a video and will get that up as soon as I can.

The rest of the trail was an easy cruise passing numerous cattle corrals and several gated cattle guards. We did continue all the way to the town of Mt Trumbull and explored the school house in part 2.

Continued in part 2.


Space Monkey
Nutter Twists Rd adventure part 2, continued from previous post!

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We finished Nutter Twists Rd and came out onto SR103. My original plan was to head north on SR103 back to St. George and back home however my buddy remembered the sign from Poverty Mountain and a cute little school house in the town of Mt Trumbull that him and I went to nearly a decade ago, so we headed deeper into the wilderness to find that school house.

Many twists and turns later along the beatiful BLM1018 we made it out onto the pastures. homesteads and ranches of the Bundy family, the same ones that are related to Cliven Bundy who shut down I15 and had a stand off with the federal marshals a few years back.

Bundys are everywhere.

Many great destinations originate from this crossing, some of which I will revisit later this summer.

We finally rolled into Mt Trumbull.

Mt Trumbull school house.

School house was burned down recently and rebuilt through the labor and material contributions of the many families that went to this school over the last 70 years and have had family homesteads in the Arizona Strip region.

Rope that once was attached to the bell is torn and lays coiled on the porch from the hot summer sun and constant use by the tourists.

Inside the school house.

There used to be an actual school chair desk combo inside at one point, but now it's gone and has been replaced with a map that has the locations homesteads in the region.

Toys and educational animals.

Yes that's how books used to be checked out back in the day.

Playground outside the school.

My adventure would not be complete without an old rust bucket for everyone to identify.

Another angle of the old farm truck.

Amazing that the belt is still on and seems to be in one piece.

As we leave Mt Trumbull I climb up onto the sign despite 35-50mph winds to recreate the picture I first took when I first explored this area nearly ten years ago.

This turned out to be a great trip exploring Nutter Twists Rd and re-visiting Mt Trumbull school house. I found new trails to explore and faster routes in and out of the region.

El Gordo

EL Gordo
great trip & pics. Thanks for posting. FWIW, this old man was 2 months old when Billy checked that book out! lol Suburbans rock!


Space Monkey
Death Valley: Eureka Dunes, Dedeckera Canyon, Marble Bath and Warm Springs!

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There are four epic adventures in Death Valley, Lippincott Pass, Mengel Pass, Echo Canyon and Dedeckera Canyon. All four of these adventures require most to spend at least one night in the park, experienced driver and spotter, capable high clearance 4x4 and the knowledge and tools to survive in this unhospitable climate in case of an emergency or break down. I have ventured on many Death Valley Trails and have taken my Sub on all but Dedeckera Canyon/Steele Pass. With the warmer weather rolling in, this time it was now or next year. Here is our adventure.

I left Vegas earlier then usual and headed for Beatty, got gas, and let the kids run wild in the Death Valley Nut and Candy Company. We headed into Death Valley via Daylight Pass and then headed north towards Ubehebe Crater/Scottys Castle, which is still closed.

Before reaching Ubehebe Crater we turned north onto Death Valley Rd and headed for Crankshaft Crossing.

After 45 minutes of cruising we reached Eureka Dunes.

I met up with a good friend who came down from Tahoe and we continued onto Dedeckera Canyon.

Absolutely no issues in the first two tight sections of Dedeckera in the Sub, waiting to spot the Tacoma up the tight squeeze.

Tacoma is getting ready to navigate the obstacles.

Kids are playing around while the big boys are playing with the big toys.

I'm about to go up the last ledge of Dedeckera Canyon.

I actually had the use 4x4 low, what a bummer.

Great view while still heading up to Steel Pass.

Super duper secret parking area for the Marble Bath.

Picking out the ducks.

I originally ordered the ducks to put into the teakettles in Teakettle Junction a few trips ago, but they arrived one day too late so I figure that this would be the best use for them to decorate the Marble Bath.

After a short hike emerges a mirage.

I am glad that the camera is able to capture exactly how vibrant the colors are with the naked eye.

Kids had a great time sitting in the marble bath and playing with the ducks, we ended up leaving at least 10.

Growing up in Soviet Russia and only recently becoming a citizen I had to leave the US flag and a Bald Eagle ducks in the tub.

Mandatory in tub picture.

We all rotated through the tub for a photo op.

Last but not least in the tub.

Off road buddies.

Continued in part 2.


Space Monkey
Death Valley: Continued from the previous post.

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After spending some time enjoying the Marble Bath we continued down from Steel Pass onto Saline Valley Warm Springs for lunch and my friend's camp for the night.

There are two areas: lower and upper, we stopped at a less developed upper.

Pool that feeds the two upper springs.

Another pool that has piping to the springs.

One of the soaking tubs.

Overflow drain from the soaking tub.

Following the overflow river through the palm trees.

Following the stream further to the mini bridge.

We set up a tarp between the two trucks for shade and started making lunch/dinner.

Initially my friend planned on making quesadillas but I thought that surf and turn would be more enjoyable.

Rib-eyes fresh from the butcher less then 24hrs ago.

One each for the adults.

And one for the kids to split.

Yum, yum, flame charred, flat top seared rib-eyes.

Surf and turf is not complete with out a couple lobster tails.

This is a perfect car-camping meal in the middle of nowhere Death Valley.

As my friend was setting up camp for the night the boys and I headed back home, ran into a couple visitors on the way out.

Famous Warm Springs bat sign.

The drive back home was smooth down the well traveled Saline Valley Rd. It was a great trip to complete my collection of the big four trails of Death Valley, all without any trail building or spotters. The Sub setup is exactly what I expected and wanted to build. I can comfortably run trails faster and smoother than just about any other vehicle out there and can turn multi-day overlanding trips such as Dedeckera Canyon into a day trip with plenty of down time to explore.


Space Monkey
Armargosa Sand Dunes!

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Most people in SoCal and Las Vegas Area go to Glamis or Dumont both of which are exceptional area and are ridiculously busy just about every day of the year, which can be a great thing especially when your get stuck and can not get out by yourself. However I do not plan on getting stuck and want the peace, quiet and serenity of having my own sand dune area without having to pay to play. We went an hour north of Las Vegas to a place called Armagosa Big Dune. We were the only ones there and it was magical.

Kids posing with the minion that marks the entrance to the dunes.

Our base camp, had to bring the camper with the AC for the kids and a dirt bike just to play around, it did not do well on the sand at all with bald dirt tires.

We explored the endless sea of sand and the Sub did great. I should have taken a picture of the flag mount which was the already drilled 1/2" hole in the hood from where the hood pins were before they sheared off.

Hill climbing early on while I was trying to figure out which gear and transfer case configuration to stay in.

4wd high, 2nd gear, torque converter locked, rear tires 15psi, front tires 35psi was the best all around combination for the day.

My buddy left his 4Runner at base camp and pulled out the ultimate sand dune machine which walked up to the top of the Big Dune and around us like it was nothing.

We ran into but not over a local that was perfectly camouflaged in the desert.

Overall a great time by all, the kids had a blast in the Razor and could not appreciate some of the places the Sub was able to get in and out of. My buddy with his Jeep had so much fun and really had a chance to explore the full potential of his Jeep and exactly how well the TruTracks work.

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Tortillas to Totems (Every day an Adventure Book 4)
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Imagine the memories your kids are packing away! So great you are getting them out there at such an early age and letting them go. You just don’t see that in this day and age with parents.. yeah, the wheeling is awesome etc but you can tell it’s about the family not the Burb (mostly 😁).. way to go.


Space Monkey
Imagine the memories your kids are packing away! So great you are getting them out there at such an early age and letting them go. You just don’t see that in this day and age with parents.. yeah, the wheeling is awesome etc but you can tell it’s about the family not the Burb (mostly 😁).. way to go.

Thank you, the kids love all the ghost towns and adventures we get into and will look back at this with pride. You are also correct, it has always been about the family and getting out, Suburban is just the vessel, I can get to the same places in any vehicle but I am more excited about the adventure itself than what I am driving.

Many more adventures ahead of us!



Thank you, the kids love all the ghost towns and adventures we get into and will look back at this with pride. You are also correct, it has always been about the family and getting out, Suburban is just the vessel, I can get to the same places in any vehicle but I am more excited about the adventure itself than what I am driving.

Many more adventures ahead of us!
Hehe.. they will look back on this and say “we had the coolest dad on the planet!!”

Enjoy it!


Space Monkey
Gold Butte: Twin Point and Grand Gulch Mine.

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We have been trying to find a way to get to get to Grand Gulch Mine and have either found impassible trails or not enough time, finally we made it all the way to the mine.

Best route that I can find in and out is starting from St George, take River Rd south, which turns into AZ 5, turn right onto AZ 103, turn right onto BLM1002, follow BLM1002 all the way to the mine and take the same route out.

Saw this rust bucket peaking thorough the brush approximately 50ft off the road, had to investigate.

Once again I have no idea what make or model this is, if you identify it I will give you credit.

This truck is 1/4mile from the border of Grand Canyon Parashant national monument and Grand Canyon National Park.

So it rained while we were out there and all the signs said that these trails should not be attempted in the rain or within 24 hours of the rain due to them being impassible. We made it, over 100 miles of 1-6" deep mud, Patagonia MTs had no issues in 2wd high.

Onto Twin Point where we thought about camping but the road was too close to the edge of the Grand Canyon and we didn't want to take a chance with the boys falling over the edge.

The road is five feet from the edge at some places.

Wifey would not let me get the truck close to the edge for a picture.

Grand Gulch Mine was the biggest and most profitable copper mine in Arizona and was operational during WWI and WWII, operations stopped due to the low demand and low price of copper as well as extensive transportation costs involved in getting it to the refineries.

Front side of the three room bunk house.

Powder room, is approximately 1/5 mile from the strip mine and at a safe distance fro the two runway airstrip. great place to keep explosives.

Smelter chimney has three levels and is 50-60ft tall.

Sub with the smelter chimney in the background.

Hoppers a a foundation of a building long gone.

Once of the better preserved buildings.

Ore trucks, the mining operation just stopped and everyone left, this is how the camp looked on it's last day.

Due to the remote location and difficult access the trucks are relatively well preserved in the harsh desert environment.

Front truck.

Kids spent nearly an hour driving the big trucks.

They could get into the drivers seat but could not get out, light breeze and shade made for some free time for me to explore the buildings next to the trucks uninterrupted. We returned home the same way we came in. Took us just under three hours of actual driving to cover 125 miles from St George to Twin Point to Grand Gulch Mine and a little under two hours to drive 84 miles back to St George.

We covered over 210 miles and still had enough gas to make it back to Vegas (120 miles). Any other vehicle would have to have brought extra gas and needed to use 4x4 to get up some of the 24" or higher washed outs ledges. Great trip, the weather was a hit or miss with clouds and rain and sunshine.


Space Monkey
400 miles in Death Valley.

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The last three months it has been way too hot to get out and explore the South West desert with a two and three year olds. I also took the time to troubleshoot and attempt to fix a really rough idle and misfire codes. Got the motor to idle smoother and run a little better but hte check engine light is still on, still getting a misfire and since it's not getting better or worse I decided to run what I bring and get out of the house to explore a new part of Death Valley. I even brought a couple friends along in case the Sub decides to die on me.

Bathroom brakes at Stove Pipe Wells

Little one could not resist to play in his new jungle gym.

Time to put the wagon back together and head on up the hill from below sea level all the way to 8,100 ft.

A quick 30 minute drive and one and a half vertical miles up we made it to the end of the road at Mahogany Flat Camp ground, the trail-head for Telescope peak.

After three hours on the road everyone was excited to get out, stretch their legs out and enjoy lunch.

Boys had a blast getting dirty in the fire pit and climbing every tree they saw.

Here we are the misfits: 2000 Sub, 2005 Jeep LJ, 2015 4Runner Limited

All lined up. Best part about today's adventure is that the over-weight, under-powered, under-geared Suburban is the only truck that ran every trail in 2wd.

The boys and I at the Charcoal Kilns.

These Kilns were built in 1877 and remained in operation for 3 years.

Pinion pine was cut down and slowly turned into charcoal over several days in these kilns.

Charcoal was then moved approximately 20 miles west of here to a mine site where the charcoal was used for in the silver and lead smelters.

George Hearst owned the mines, he was the father of William Randolph Hearst, as in Hearst Castle William Randolph Hearst.

Boys had to pose with the Wildrose peak trail which we did not do today, but is one of my favorite trails in Death Valley.

We continued down the Emigrant Pass Rd back towards Stove-pipe Wells and turned off onto Telephone Canyon trail which is only marked with a "Service Road" sign. This is the trail to Nemo-Christmas mines.

Parking at the top of the mine that we found at the end of the canyon. This is the top of Christmas mine.

Mine opening, the shaft goes about in about 100 feet before its blocked.

Mining cart rails that go off into the distance.

Continued in part 2.


Space Monkey
400 miles in Death Valley: part 2.

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Continuing from the previous post: on the way down from the mine at the end of Telephone Canyon we ran into a park ranger who chatted with us for a while, bottom line was that he has not seen anyone on that trail for years and wanted to know when mischief we were into. This entire part is of the desert gold I found in the form of abandoned classic cars we found at this mine site. If anyone can identify any of the vehicles I will edit the post and give them full credit for each vehicle they identify: thank you in advance and enjoy!

Pretty view of the parking area at the main adit of Argenta mine.

Found "Silent" George Griest's car, he was the deputy sheriff of Death Valley in the early 1930s and was also known as "Sheriff of the Panamints", that's a sheriff's star on the side.

Rayra identified this pre-WWII Ford coupe. How ironic that we ran into a park ranger and then found this old police car.

Next vehicle on the list is this old Plymouth.

Once again who ever identifies the year and model gets credit for it.

Side view of the pretty Plymouth coupe.

Rear end view of the Plymouth.

Thank you Todd n Natalie for identifying this 1953 Mercury Monterey

Front end of the 1953 Mercury Monterey

The boys spent over two hours playing with all the old busted cars at this mine site.

Here is another pretty coupe.

If you know the year, make, model of this coupe, comment below or PM me and I will give you credit.

Back of the coupe #4

Speedometer and gauge cluster of the mystery coupe.

This was in the wheel well however i think it's a part of the air circulation system and not a wheel.

Old Ford hand crack 4-banger.

Thank you Todd n Natalie for identifying this 1955 Buick

Rear bumper.

If anyone wants to identify this one I will give them credit.

Inside of the upside down coupe.

Wow, so this was one heck of a score of an antique coupe junk yard in the middle of Death Valley on a trail that is not listed anywhere in the park literature. Going to dig through the original Death Valley Resource Study and find out more about this mine and area. I did not get any pictures of the mine shafts, but my friends explored the mine for nearly two hours and said that there were over 20 adits (entrances) that we could see from the outside and at least a dozen vertical shafts to the outside. Main adit ran for over 1,000ft before splitting in numerous directions.


Paperwork Specialist
Thank you very much from the other side of the world !

Love the write up and the pics !!!

Please keep them coming..