Schmidt's "Famous Tunnel" now has a group of
"friends" trying to preserve and protect the
the photo to visit their Website.
the photo below to read more about Cerro Gordo.
Gordo now has its own Web site. Click the link below to visit.
is a new publication highlighting the history and legends
California and Nevada.
on the logo for
in the Night and on the Road
Cecile Page Vargo
K. didn’t realize she had captured this ghostly Bodie resident
until she got home and processed the pictures from her Memorial
Day visit. Bob Pilatos, who has examined many Bodie ghost pictures
states, "Merri has undoubtedly captured on film the
finest supernatural aberration ever recorded in Bodie! What is
interesting about her image is the fact that the figure in the
window is wearing the same type of eyeglasses that are on the
counter inside of the Boone Store! Could it be that James Stuart
Cain still watches over the town?"
Eyeglasses on the
counter in the Boone Store in Bodie. These appear to be the same
style worn by the person in the window of the Odd Fellows Lodge (the
courtesy of Bob Pilatos)
In addition to things that go “bump” on the road, you may
find your favorite dirt road has things that go bump in the night as
well. Mike Marinacci’s “Mysterious California” includes several of
our frequent haunts, and I have personally heard a few ghost stories as
Off roaders are not the only ones who enjoy the
Southern California. Marinacci lists it
as not only the largest park in California, but also the most
Spirits of Borrego
Nearly everyone is familiar
with Peg Leg Smith’s legendary lost gold mine that is memorialized
four miles northeast of Borrego Springs at the end of
Pegleg Road. Many have chased
their dreams looking for his lost mine. During that same time, the
Borrego Badlands was haunted by the ghost of an old prospector who was
owner of the appropriately named Phantom Mine. His eight foot skeleton,
with a lantern light flickering in his bony chest, is said to roam the
desert, chasing intruders off his claim.
In the Carrizo Wash, a stagecoach pulled by four mules, travels
along the old Butterfield Stage Road with no passengers--just a ghostly
driver. Back in the 1860’s, a stage disappeared after its driver was
held up by bandits and killed for a box of gold. Wheel ruts are said to
be seen in the soft sand after the stage has driven by.
Vallecito Station is haunted by the Carrizo Wash stage ghost and
a few others. A phantom white horse has occasionally been seen galloping
down the road, as well as the ghosts of two Texan duelists who killed
one another. In 1869, an eastern bride traveling to Sacramento
to meet her fiancé
fell ill at Vallecito and died. She was buried in the bridal gown found
in her trunk. Known as “The Woman in White”, some say she can be
seen pacing the adobe grounds even today.
In addition to ghosts and phantom miners, a Viking ship may lie
buried in rocks and soil in a canyon above Agua Caliente Springs.
Bigfoot has been occasionally spotted near the Borrego Sink. Ghost
lights, or as old miners called them “burning balls”, have lit up
the night skies over Oriflame
west of Butterfield
Ranch for years.
to the Mojave Expedition
Cecile Page Vargo
Mojave Expedition was the first tour we offered for Ecological
4-wheeling Adventures way back in 1989, if memory serves me
correctly. We are proud to bring to you the Mojave Expedition-2005
on November 12 under our Explore Historic California name. To whet
your appetite for this ever popular tour chalk
full of living
Western Mojave legend and lore, we re-print this write-up from the
spring of 2000. There have been a few changes in the trip since
then, thanks or no-thanks to nature and to mankind. We have done a
little re-routing here and there, and sadly watched the state of
Burro Schmidt’s Tunnel change since Tonie Seger’s passing,
but the spirit of the trip and even the tunnel still live on.
Sit back and relax in your computer armchair as we go on a
March 18, marked our first Mojave Expedition of the year
2000. Winds were predicted but didn’t show up. We were left with
beautiful warm weather and clear blue, calm skies. This was our
first outing since Thanksgiving weekend.
Early Saturday morning our longtime friend, Marty Cole, met
us at our house and drove with us to Mojave. After filling our gas
tanks, and emptying our wallets and bladders in Mojave, we ventured
to Jawbone Station. Ruby had snacks and coffee waiting for us.
We were excited to see good friends and regulars Steve and
Anita Spangler and Dave Legters among the many new faces joining us
for the day. The Spanglers and their black “Spanglermobile”
Blazer volunteered to sweep on this day. Steve also came equipped
with his video camera to record the more interesting parts of our
From Jawbone Station we headed out to Highway 14 into Red
Canyon State Park, and on to Opal Canyon Road, our official
dirt road start. Once the start of the dirt road lecture was over,
we got a few moments to stretch and perhaps make a quick visit to a
mesquite or creosote bush.
Traveling through Opal
Canyon, we passed the
signs for the Nowalk and Barnett mines. We were saddened to see a
new sign announcing that Dick and Shirley Barnett had passed away.
We explained for the tour how, for a couple of dollars, the
Barnett’s would let visitors picnic and pick and keep all of the
opals they found in a day. If one was really lucky, Dick would bring
out the “Mojave Flame” ring that he made from a large fire opal.
We hope the ring is on display at the Smithsonian, as Dick had
written in his will.
From the opal mines, it’s a bit of a climb then down a
rocky steep hill, to a flat area overlooking Last
Canyon. We paused there
for a lecture stop and a chance to walk the dogs. Roger explained
more local geology and geography and what lay ahead.
Harry Lewellyn, who led an expedition three weeks before, had
warned us that there were several potential tough spots in the
streambed around Cudahy Camp. We safely maneuvered the first spot
over the wet, slippery rocks and around the huge square boulder that
sits as a sentinel in Last
Canyon. Dave Legters
avoided the streambed altogether and took the soft, sandy and deeply
rutted uphill branch in his new Toyota
lockers, he made it look easy, but we suggested the rest of the tour
follow Roger’s lead through the streambed to the parking area
We're back on the road again!
on the photo for schedule details.
Our next tour is the Fathill
Fandango, October 15-17, 2005 and we've reduced the price!
tour begins near Mojave and ends in Lone Pine, Calif.
We are heading out to Jawbone
Station to lead a
Mojave Expedition (day trip) Saturday, November 12, 2005. The tour
begins near Mojave and ends in or near Randsburg.
Please contact us at email@example.com
additional information or reservations.
Explore Historic California!
Not too many years ago, the family station wagon was the
magic carpet to adventure. Today, that family station wagon is likely to
be a four wheel drive sport utility vehicle or pick up truck. SUV's and
other 4x4's are one of the best selling classes of vehicles. Ironically,
industry statistics show that once purchased, few owners will dare to
drive their vehicles off the paved highway. Click your mouse through our
website and enjoy our armchair adventures and the histories behind them.
If you are interested in taking one of our guided tours with your
vehicle, please contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Several years ago, we bought our first SUV. We went to a one-night class
at a local community college entitled "How to 4-Wheel Drive" by Harry Lewellyn.
The following weekend we attended the hands-on day tour. We liked what we were
doing so much that we began going out nearly every weekend and learned how to
negotiate a variety of dirt roads. Our spare time was spent doing research on
the history and ecology of our favorite areas. A one-day outing turned into 16
years of leading others on mini-vacations throughout Southern California and the
Our 4WD outings involve driving on easy to moderate dirt roads and are
ideally suited to novice and intermediate level drivers. All tours are suitable
for stock vehicles in good condition, although some tours do have vehicle size
Our tours are
operated under permits issued by the Bureau of Land Management, U.S.
Forest Service, and other authorities.
We share our knowledge of the backcountry over the CB radio with our
guests. We frequently stop to explore mining areas, old and new, and ponder the
rocks, plants and animals we may encounter. We'll occasionally visit an old
cabin or deserted mountain lookout.
California has a fascinating history, from geologic unrest and
prehistoric petroglyph scribes to the "Radium Queen of the Mojave" and the
"Human Mole of Black Mountain." Load up your 4X, fasten your seatbelts and get
ready to explore historic California.
Roger, Cecile and Marty