My Solo Wanderings of the West


New member
I’m hooked to your posts and hopefully do what you are doing someday when I retire or sooner 😁. I have a newer Tacoma that I’m starting to build gradually and just in research mode.

I haven’t scrolled through all your writings and apologize if you already answered this but what camera do you use?

Thanks for sharing your awesome adventures!


Hi, and thanks everybody!

Buddha, cooler is already done, also running full synthetic trans fluid. No gauge yet but I have monitored temps with an IR thermometer, pulling over to check on long grades, and it runs nice and cool. I’ve also upgraded to a heavy duty fan clutch. And rear end has been re-geared from 3.23 to 3.73. The Astro has done real well towing.

racerchoi, the pics in this report since 2015 were taken with a Sony DSC-RX100, although I’ve hardly touched it this year. Lately I’ve just been using my iPhone camera, and the 3 pics posted above were taken with the iPhone.

Chet, hi and thanks!

MCX, likewise!

Sierra Valley, thanks, and I’ll keep it mind. One of these trips!



Kenny, That is an awesome upgrade, I bet it was nice to have over the winter. SO very happy to see some posts from you. I'm guessing it was no problem to haul the bike and tow also? Love to see some pics of the set up. Enjoy yourself, I love the trip pics and write ups.


New member
Your post is the reason I registered with this site. You're a helluva storyteller and photographer! I'm only on page 4 and can't seem to pull myself away. You really need to start a YouTube channel!


The next morning I was leaving to drive the last few miles to Capitol Reef. I only drove through the previous year so I had only seen what was on the highway.

I drove south on Notom Road, I think it was 27 miles, much of it unpaved, to Cedar Mesa campground. It's a free primitive campground in the National Park.

It was really hot camping there, and the biting gnats were thick, but I went down there so I could ride the Burr Trail on the bike. Days like that that I wish I had something other than a dark color van.

There are a lot of reasons I don't like campgrounds and tend to avoid them. There is nighttime with smoldering campfires that cover the campground with smoky haze. There are dogs that bark incessantly, there are dogs running loose because, according to the owner, their dogs are too well-behaved, or too old, or too big to be leashed. There are the RVers that like to go to the primitive sites, then run their generator and air conditioner. I've actually had to pack up and move from a campsite because of the exhaust fumes from an RVs generator.
That night at Cedar Mesa I was the only camper in the campground until a group rolled in at 11:30 pm and camped in the site next to me. At 6:30 am I woke to the sound of a diesel idling and diesel fumes wafting into my van. The neighbor's diesel pickup idled for 30 minutes, then it was shut off. Later it started again, and idled for 20 minutes, then they left. Now I can add diesel pickup owners to the list of why I don't like campgrounds.

Travel tip: I opened a prescription bottle to find the pills were beginning to pulverize themselves into powder form. Miles of off-pavement and washboard driving were taking a toll on them. I went through all my meds and packed the bottles with paper stuffing. I have several months supply of prescriptions stashed away, I was glad to catch that before I found bottles of powder instead of pills.

Coming up soon, the Burr Trail, Waterpocket Fold, and lots of Capitol Reef. Posting this from Ely, Nevada. Thanks for reading!
Amen to the RVRs with all the comfort of home, some including the recliner


I went through Natural Bridges and Capitol Reef last September, pulling a 25 foot Toyhauler. There are a few dispersed camping sites, but the road is winding and narrow, very difficult to pull a large trailer AND enjoy the immense beauty around you. We are looking at doing it again, but this time maybe basing the RV at a campground, then exploring by truck. I can certainly agree with the sentiments about RV people and their generators - nor can I understand why, with an empty campground/area, somebody has to camp right next to you. I actually found a location near the Fremont River, where the nearest camper was a good quarter-mile away, and our extremely well-behaved dogs didn't bother anyone. Can't answer about the generator - didn't use it, but later on that trip, camped in the Tushars with friends who seemed to feel that running the generator all night was a good idea. Sigh. Friends.
Last edited:


Still wandering?
Hey Chet, yep, I'm still wandering. I ended up spending over 6 months along the eastern Sierras, from mid-April to late October, following the weather to the higher elevations as summer heated up then reversing and heading down again in the fall. From Lone Pine and the Alabama Hills I spent time near Big Pine, then a few sites around Bishop, then up the hill to the Crowley Lake area, then on to campsites in the Mammoth Lakes and June Lake area.

Some random pics from this year's travels…

My original plan with the new trailer was to put it in storage after the winter season but with only 400-500 miles from my winter stomping grounds to my planned summer area I pulled the trailer up to the Sierras. Here’s a spring campsite near Lone Pine.

From Horton Creek campground west of Bishop there’s an old road that connects with the Buttermilks. Here looking back down the road toward Round Valley with the snow-topped White Mountains in the distance.

And looking up the road toward the Buttermilks.

In the Crowley Lake area there’s a ton of good riding. Above the camping area this old road heads into the Sierras to some old mine camps. Maps say this eventually connects with Rock Creek canyon but there’s a gate and the road disappears into a foot trail.

Looking back down that road toward Crowley Lake and the Long Valley caldera.

I rode Benton Crossing Road all the way around Crowley Lake to get to Owens Gorge Road and then explored some of the spurs. I camped up here in 2013.
This view is looking back toward the valley in the pics just above. From Benton Crossing Road north of the lake is access to the many hot springs in the Long Valley.

Nearby was Rock Creek Road up to Mosquito Flats. With the year's heavy snowfall the road was closed a few miles from the top. The snowmelt filled up the raging creek. I made a few rides up there later in the season when the road was open to the top. I've read it’s the highest paved public road in California, ending at about 10,300.



The next move up the hill was to this campsite about 10 miles outside Mammoth Lakes. I spent a good part of the summer based at this site, making occasional moves to other areas I wanted to check out. Camp was at about 8,000 feet so the summer temps were perfect, usually in the 70s with a few days bumping into the low 80s. And always sunny.

Nearby there are two different routes up to the summit of Bald Mountain east of 395 so I did a long loop to the top and back. What amazing views!

Looking northwest from Bald Mountain lookout.

Of course above the town of Mammoth Lakes are the lakes of the Mammoth Lakes basin. Much of the lakes area didn’t open until 4th of July or later because of the record snowfall.

I can’t even list all the great roads and trails I explored in that area. I put a ton of miles on the bike!

I took a side trip up Tioga Pass to visit Yosemite. This is the incredible grade up from Lee Vining.

The overlook at Olmsted Point looking toward Half Dome. From this viewpoint with binoculars you can watch the hikers on the Half Dome Cables.

A couple views of Tenaya Lake in Yosemite.