Category: Frontier

The Most Dangerous Roads in the World

 

zojilapas

 

In some parts of the world roads are almost an afterthought. People want to get from point A to point B and there’s a piece of land that a coyote walked through once. Why not make it a road?

It was once said of the infamous Mosquito Pass in Colorado (the highest motorway in the US) that when a freight driver met a passenger coach, the freighter would get the right-of-way. This was because of the difficulty it would take to recover a load of freight that went over the side. If a passenger coach tumbled over you simply had to bury your cargo where it fell.

So enjoy these harrowing drives, and if you happen to navigate one of these roads (and live to tell the tale) let me know in the comments:

15 Crazy Roads

22 Roads Most Dangerous Roads in the World Worth Avoiding

 The Best, Worst and Deadliest Roads in America

Hike to Two Trees

Two Trees

Two Trees, Ventura’s favorite spot for vandalism, is a quick but stiff hike with an amazing panoramic view at the top. This hike is on private property and foot traffic is not allowed.

Perched on rolling hills like twin sentinels over the town, these trees have become an icon for the preservation of nature and open space. But the truth is that Two Trees aren’t natural at all. They are blue gum trees (eucalyptus globulus) imported from Australia. Thirteen of these trees were planted at the request of property owner Joseph Sexton in 1898. Sexton, who resided in Goleta, thought of California as a kind of empty canvas that needed to be filled with exotic plants from other countries. He is perhaps best known for introducing Evil Pampas Grass to the state.

One Tree

In 1903 a brush fire destroyed eight of Sexton’s trees. This fire also set off a gas flare from a hidden natural oil deposit that killed Ralph Lloyd’s horse and touched off Ventura’s oil boom.

Five trees remained at the top of the hill until 1940 when a few Halloween pranksters hacked down three of the trees. Marcel “Slim” Sap, owner of the local Motor Mart and vigorous civic booster, replanted the three deceased trees and all was well until 1956 when football hooligans cut down one of the orginal trees and two of the replacements.

Even though Two Trees is on private land, a lot of Venturans seem to feel the landmark is part of the public trust. And others still see it as a blank canvas–to be painted with spray cans and fat black markers. Pen knives. Nails. Glass. And in one case I’d guess a hatchet was taken to the bark to carve “Blake + Lindson.”

A friend confessed to me today that she, too, tried to leave her mark on this spot. She and her best friend in high school struggled up the steep hillside dragging a trash bag containing a douglas fir and thirty pounds of soil, along with two shovels and a flashlight. In a sweaty fit of midnight skulduggery they planted the fir between the two gum trees.

And that’s the story of how Two Trees almost became Three Trees.

Previously published November 20, 2006

Two Trees with Paint

The Best Places to See Nature in Every State

connecticut

If yesterday’s post was too California-centric for you, Business Insider has a run-down of all 50 states with The Most Breathtaking Natural Wonders in Every State.

Some of the suggestions are obvious – in Colorado you go to Pike’s Peak of course. But some of the recommendations are a bit provocative. When in Delaware go see the cypress swamps.

50 states, 50 natural wonders is quite a bucket list. If you want to narrow it down consider North America’s Top 10 Natural Wonders.

[Photo: Connecticut Office of Tourism via Business Insider]

Top 20 Best Places to Camp in California

Wild Willy's Hot Spring | Photo by Greg Balkin

Wild Willy’s Hot Spring | Photo by Greg Balkin

The Huffington Post lists their picks for must-do adventures in California. There are some great spots on the list, even if it is a little heavy on campsites and hot springs.

I’m a little surprised to see Two Harbors on the list – I think I’d opt for camping on Anacapa Island instead. That said, my favorite thing to do in Two Harbors is go through the sea cave. BONUS TIP – sing the Pirates of the Caribbean theme song in your best pirate voice when you go in the cave. Watch for tides and be advised that in the afternoon you’ll likely be fighting the wind and current on the way back home.

[Photo: Greg Balkin]

Back Home to Patch My Bones – Three Lessons from Our Last Trip

Our recent trip to Colorado was…well it got off to a bumpy start. Hertz rent-a-car was short 200 cars, there was a 3 hour wait – during which time NO HERTZ EMPLOYEE ACKNOWLEDGED THE SITUATION OR SPOKE TO CUSTOMERS IN LINE, when we finally talked to an agent we discovered we had booked our reservation downtown, the manager told us our choices were to pay triple our agreed-upon rate or go downtown before the office closed at 6pm. We got downtown at 5pm only to find that the office had closed at 4pm. Stranded in downtown Denver with no car and no rooms available. Thanks Hertz for the worst customer service we’ve ever had.

Anyhow, here are some things I learned:

1. Pin every destination to a map before the trip. For past trips I’ve made a custom Google map with planned and possible stops. If I’d done that this time we’d have seen our car rental booking error and fixed it before we had to deal with the Denver Hertz’ terrible customer service.

2. Bring the Mophie reserve battery. Traveling is hard on your cell phone battery for some reason. We were running low all the time, even when we finally got a rental car (from Enterprise – excellent customer service). If I’d packed my Mophie we’d have had far fewer conversations that began “my phone might die in the middle of our conversation.”

3. Cotton underwear. I like the Champion performance gear they sell at Target. It wicks away moisture and is fast drying. The synthetic fabric has a nice silky feel, it’s lightweight and packs well. I thought it would be great when we traveled to France. It wasn’t. I felt like I was inside of a giant clam the whole time. Sweaty, sweaty, sweaty even when others were bundling up against the Fall chill. It’s cotton from here on out for me.

On the Road with Jucy Lucy – Our Experiment with Low Cost RV Rental

I’ve always wanted to rent an RV but every time I looked into the deets I found them crazy expensive to rent. Well, the ones I looked into a required a huge ($2500) deposit. Granted there are better deals if you take some time to look into the best rates for rv rentals, but I stopped looking.

Enter Jucy Campers. You don’t go looking for Jucy, Jucy comes looking for you. By that I mean the lime-green-and-purple paint job is so loud you can hear it two blocks away. The good news is that Jucy RV rates are about what you’d pay for any mini-van, and quite a bit less than most hotels.

Because I’m lazy (hey, my vacation starts NOW) I’ll let Travel Fashion Girl provide the full review. Let’s just say that aside from the relative hassle of picking up an RV from Lawndale, my initial experience with Jucy has been great. The Jucy website recommends taking the Hostel Hopper from LAX, which I sorta did. NOTE: Jucy has a bad link to Hostel Hopper so you’ll need to follow the link above (or google Hostel Hopper). The nice people at the Hopper had know idea that Jucy was referring them, but my lift was prompt, pleasant and cheaper than a taxi.

Getting the Jucy van home and packed was a snap and we’re getting ready to roll out of here. So far the only downside is terrible racket made by the Jucy-provided kitchen gear. I stuffed towels around all the pots and pans and crockery and hopeful it will be a little better than a 5.0 earthquake in a china shop.

Love Camping but Can’t Part with Your Mid-century Modern Life? Try These

Face it, sometimes you want to live in a better part of town. Maybe on the grounds of a rolling estate or some place you can fish from your back porch. Architizer features the Markies camper, something like an Eichler home in a box.

If you’ve got a spare $55,000 in your budget, then check out the Spartan Carousel, sparkling like a diamond among a bunch of canned hams on MessyNessyChic. The Carousel was a premiere offering of the Spartan trailer company, demonstrating that trailer life could be fashionable. (So many ironies.)

Maybe Frank Gehry type, if so check out this pop-out postmodern camping trailer.

But for camping in the era of the Apocalypse, this one has my money – a tent trailer that fits in a shopping cart.

Is BMW’s i3 at the Frontier of Driving Technology? (Hint: It Comes with a Spitoon)

I don’t know if lumbersexual tobacco-scented hipsters are anywhere near the core of the market for the i3, but if they are BMW is ready for them with this rugged rustproof ABS squirt bucket.

This plastic ash-can isn’t unique to the i3, nor are many other features such as Connected Drive and BMW Assist. But when you roll them all together in an advanced carbon-fiber package it starts feeling as if the future has arrived. Sadly, without a jetpack.

After three weeks of driving I have a very strong feeling of being networked. This car was designed around ecosystems, electric grids, cellular systems and highway infrastructure. The BMW i3 Remote app, which lets you pre-heat or pre-cool your car when it’s plugged in, has hooks to link with Life360, a service that let’s your family and friends creep on your driving habits. So yes, even social networking plays into the design of the i3.

We’re just around the corner from the end of the automobile as we know it. With the BMW i3 the era of the Hypercar has begun. But I don’t think this era will last terribly long. The self-driving car isn’t very far on the horizon and by the time that happens we may well stop thinking about cars as cars and more as mobile offices or lounges. And when that day comes just remember that the BMW i3 helped you get there.

Looking for Some Outdoor Adventure? Check Pinterest for Best Places to Hike

Hiking on Pinterest

When I think of Pinterest I think about knitting. It wouldn’t be my go-to-destination for planning my next big adventure.

And I’d be wrong – check out these pinboards listing the best hiking trails in the world.

While you’re at it, check out the boards for outdoor gear, camping trailers, canyoneering and bushcraft.

If these pins don’t make you want to hit the ol’ dusty I don’t know what will.

Come Home Alive – There’s an App for That

Search and rescue team attends to injured caver

Christopher Van Tilburg talks on Outside Blog about a search and rescue operation that went far better than usual because the stranded hikers had a smartphone. Rescuers were able to get detailed coordinates and guide the hikers to a safe pickup location. Maybe smartphones should be basic equipment?

If you are an adventuresome smartphone user, by all means check out survival apps such as the one from Mammut, a free survival app geared to skiers and snowboarders. BuddyGuard is another offering, one that automatically phones home if you become incapacitated. However, with a price of $120 you’re edging into personal beacon territory.

One thing to consider is how often you will be traveling outside of cellular range. If you’re out of bars, your smartphone might seem a little stupid. WoodsMonkey has some tips on how to use a smartphone as a survival tool even when you’re out of range.

If you want the Search and Rescue to find you when you’re really out in the wild you’ll need something more like the Spot Personal Tracker. This device actually sends your coordinates to a satellite which then communicates to a server and sends an email to prearranged parties. These beacons require a subscription service and they are limited in their ability to send messages. But you can work out a prearranged deal with friends or family to start a search in your last marked location if you fail to check-in.

None of these devices replace good old fashioned common sense but they do promise to shave hours off your own personal 127 Hours ordeal.

German Hotel for People Who Want to Pretend They Are Camping

Huttenpalast Camper

Do you love camping but hate mosquitos and…well, everything that has to do with the outdoors? Welcome to Hüttenpalast, an affordable (30 euros per person, roughly $43), hotel near Berlin that brings the outdoors inside. Here you can sleep in a tiny hut or canned-ham style trailer, sing campfire songs with total strangers, and stumble through the trees to the bathroom in darkness…all the things you love about camping without the fear of getting eaten by bears.

If the idea of sleeping in a tiny hut thrills you but you aren’t planning a trip outside the US any time soon you might try renting a yurt in Big Sur, staying in an Airstream in the Catskill Mountains, New York at Kate’s Lazy Meadow (owned by Kate Pierson of the B-52s), or sleeping where the bough doesn’t break at the Treesort treehouse bed & breakfast in Cave Junction, Oregon.

Via Treehugger

How to Avoid Blood-Sucking Vermin (Ticks, Not Lawyers)

If you hike then sooner or later you will have to deal with ticks. These cunning relatives of the spider wait on the ends of leaves and grasses for an unsuspecting mammal to brush past and then climb aboard for a free lunch.

Alicia MacKleay provides a comprehensive guide to dealing with ticks on and off the trail, including ways to tick-proof your clothing.

There are also a number of natural tick repellents you might try, although the most promising, nootkatone, won’t be commercially available for a few years.

A careful tick-survey of your clothing and body is your best bet after each hike. Otherwise you could wind up bringing them into your house where they can sneak-attack your family and friends.

I’ve never had a tick on myself, but my dogs and my sister have. Folklore states that the best way to remove a tick is to encourage it to leave voluntarily, either smothering it with oil or burning it with a match. Both these methods, it turns out, are terrible. They don’t work and they can cause the critter to “barf” its stomach contents into your bloodstream. Ick.

We also were once instructed to remove a tick by twisting it in a counterclockwise direction. It worked like magic. Or was that clockwise?

Twisting might work but it also might leave the tick’s head embedded in the skin where it can fester. The recommended way to remove a tick is to grab it very close to the skin and pull straight back. See Bug Girl’s suggestions for the correct approach to removing a tick. It’s a good idea to carry tweezers or a tick remover every time you hit the trail.

Image By André Karwath aka Aka (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-2.5 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons

Bear-Proof Expedition Quality Kitchen

Kanz Field Kitchen

One of the dreariest chores that goes along with car camping is stashing your cookware and supplies in the bear-proof cupboard at each campsite. You’ll never have to do that again with these expedition-tough purpose-built field kitchens from Kanz Outdoors. Built from marine-grade aluminum with polished birch plywood interiors, Kanz certifies that their rugged boxes are bear-proof. But before shelling out six bills for one of these high grade boxes, you might want to check local regulations regarding bear canisters.

Unfortunately I think the Kanz boxes are a little too pricey for the typical Suburban Frontiersman. But they look well worth the attention of outfitters, trail guides and yurt-dwellers.

Via The Kitchn

Hike of the Week – Peter Strauss Ranch

Peter Strauss Ranch

Ranch House at Peter Strauss Ranch

Peter Strauss Ranch is a great place to explore, picnic and introduce kids to hiking. The 0.6 mile Peter Strauss Trail is one of the best places in the Santa Monica Mountains to hike with children who are at that awkward age – too big to lug in a backpack carrier but not quite ready for a march to Bataan. The trail is shady, well maintained and an easy hike. There is ample evidence of wildlife on the property but a peacock is the fiercest animal you’re likely to encounter. The grounds are peaceful but on a nice day you’ll have to put up with the constant thrum of motorcycles on Mulholland.

For more ambitious hikers and explorers there is a connector to Malibu Lake and from there you can head over to Paramount Ranch or to the Malibu Creek area.

One of the nice things about using Strauss ranch as your trailhead is that the parking lot is a mere stumble from The Old Place, a colorful and historic watering hole. Boutique prices but the food is good and the atmosphere is intriguing.

Directions:

30000 Mulholland Highway, Agoura Hills, CA, 91301

Take the Ventura Freeway (U.S. 101) to Kanan Road exit. South on Kanan Road 2.8 miles. Turn left on Troutdale Drive to Mulholland Highway. Left on Mulholland Highway 400 feet then right into the parking lot.

More photos of the area at Geek Hiker.

Peter Strauss Trail

Peter Strauss Trail is shady, well-kept