Monday, April 11, 2011

Across Central California

It was getting on in the day as we cruised ever westward on the interstate.  It was looking like the next camp spot might be at Wally world in Bakersfield, when suddenly the sign for Harper Dry Lake wildlife viewing area came into view!

I remembered stopping here for a couple of nights on our trek eastward back in December.  It is very quiet and isolated, being 8 miles off the interstate, so it was a no-brainer.  Noisy Walmart parking lot – or a peaceful, natural dry lake view!  When I stopped shortly after exiting the interstate and got out to stretch, I was almost blown over by the west wind!  The big diesel is such a good puller that I hadn’t even known it was windy.  Of course, I had some of the windows down to stay cool, but didn’t realize how strong it was.

The surrounding area has a slightly ‘depressed’ look, like someone turned off the water – about 30 years ago?


When passing through in December, I had noticed miles of roadside fencing with a very fine page-wire, and only about 18 inches tall, with every gate and hinge sealed off carefully.  This time, I came across several crews hard at work putting up many miles of the same type of fence.  When I asked a crew what it was for, it became clear that these were contractors, not staff.  One guy finally said that it was for ‘turtles, or something’!  So, I’m going to guess that this whole area has been taken over by Fish and Game, or BLM, and is being fenced to keep Desert Tortoises off the road?



Back in December, I had also noticed a strange looking field further to the north.  I though it might have been massive greenhouses or something.  I was in a real rush to get on the road (ya, right), so I drove over to take a look.

Now, I’ll have to send over Al from the Bayfield Bunch with his good camera and ‘real’ photo skills, but I was actually quite impressed with some of my pics of this huge solar power development.  But this is not the type of solar that you and I have on our roofs and rigs with solar panels.  These are huge arrays of mirrors used to concentrate the sun’s rays onto a central pipe.  I’m guessing that this pipe is filled with oil, which eventually produces steam, and thus power?  I also saw a similar type of development just south of Boulder City on the highway to Laughlin.


The panels do break evidently, as this one shows.  While I was looking at the impressive array, a speeding vehicle came zipping up and did a U-turn and went back.  It was an umarked vehicle, but looked like ‘security’ was checking up on me.

Besides, it would have looked kind of funny to have one of these big mirrors on the roof of a 5th wheel!


After this, there was nothing left to do, but get back on the road – west.

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