Archives for category: – Historic Site

The Rubicon Trail is one of the toughest in the country. Though some of the most truck-destroying obstacles have reportedly been made less trecherous in recent years, the trail is still a grueling, 12-mile challenge. If you’re interested in tackling it, check out this video review from Terraflex. It’s one of the first I’ve seen that gives a good overview.

This is a 10-out-of-10 difficulty trail. Stock trucks can make it with difficulty but should expect damage. According to the video, 35″ tires, lockers, and 3″ of lift could be considered baseline for making through without undue stress.

If you do go, do your research, and don’t go alone. I’ve included some links below to get you started.

Thanks to Greg from gadmachine for suggesting this video.

Links:
Rubicon Trail Foundation (vehicle and general prep.
)
County of Eldorado (trail conditions)

WCXC: Rookies on the Rubicon (a 7-part series on this site of man’s first time on the trail)

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In a couple of weeks we’ll be having our first West County Explorers Club Meet & Greet. Come down, meet me & Natalie. Meet each other. Hang out. Show off your truck. Have a nice time.

It’ll be Saturday, Feb. 22nd. I thought we could do a two-part deal:

Part 1: 3pm

Meet & Greet and Truck Show & Tell at Bay Area historical relic, Mare Island.
Here’s the location: 38.112815, -122.280988 (+38° 6′ 46.13″, -122° 16′ 51.56”)
Follow the green arrow if you use the link.

Part 2: 5pm

Meet & Greet and Eat & Drink at Bay Area historical bar, Warehouse Cafe in Port Costa, just over the Carquinez Bridge.
Here’s the location for that: 38.046597, -122.182931 (+38° 2′ 47.75″, -122° 10′ 58.55”)

If you can make, let me know through the About page.

See you there!

This is pretty nutty. I’ve gone some crazy places but I’ve never driven through a mine. The poster writes that the action takes place on the Gold Rush Trail in British Columbia.

It seems super dangerous. It’s an amazing video though, if you don’t mind the music.

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The aftermarket Jeep parts supplier, Extreme Terrain, is giving away three separate 4 day / 3 night trips to major off-road destinations as part of a promotional contest. A single contestant will win the whole lot. He and his (or her) guest will be flown to California’s Rubicon Trail, Moab in Utah, and Ouray in Colorado. Once there, they’ll be given the use of a Jeep Wrangler with which they can explore the trails.

Read the rest of the post for additional details culled from Extreme Terrain’s press release.

Link:
Contest entry page Read the rest of this entry »

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By the 1920s airplanes were staying aloft consistently enough to make airmail a possibility. But just because pilots could keep airplanes from falling out of the sky or crashing into barns didn’t mean they could get one across the country.

And the U.S. Postal Service wanted to do just that: guide planes, day or night, along a 1900-mile route from New York to San Francisco, in service of the mail. And this in an age before radio beacons, or even reliable aeronautical charts. But how?

The answer turned out to be a simple one: giant concrete arrows embedded in the landscape.

These airmail beacons, as they were called, consisted of the aforementioned arrows, 70-feet long, painted yellow, and lit from above by 50-foot towers. The towers, in turn, were topped with rotating beacons and a set of course lights which flashed an unique code identifying each beacon. Pilots followed these beacons coast to coast, one after the other, in ten-mile intervals. And it worked.

From very first transcontinental airmail route in 1924 until the early 1930s, when early forms of radio navigation made them obsolete, many airway-beacon routes were developed.

Today you can still find these remnants of aviation history dotting the landscape, and they make for interesting, historical, overlanding destinations. Here’s a post from Expedition Portal member PHTaco, who’s gone out and had a look.

If you’re interested in finding old airway beacons in your area, have a look at these location lists for the Eastern and Western halves of the U.S. A click on the PID number links to a page with Lat. / Long. info.

More photos below and links with additional history at the end of the post. Read the rest of this entry »

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Titus Canyon, all photos: Gus M.

Bay Area WCXC reader Gus M. sent in these excellent photos of a ride he, his wife, and some friends took to through Furnace Creek in Death Valley. He reports that there’s a little more going on than in nearby Stovepipe Wells, including few restaurant options, gas station, post office and even a swimming pool and cell service.

See the rest of the photos, and an area map, after the link. Thanks, Gus! Read the rest of this entry »

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A couple of weeks ago we boarded Seattle’s historic steamer, Virginia V, at Lake Union and sailed to Bainbridge Island.

The Virginia V is quite an experience. You really get the feeling of traveling in another time. And she’s so quiet. Gliding through the ship canal she barely made a sound.

She was built in 1921 and became a part of what was then known as the “Mosquito Fleet,” a group of hundreds of small vessels that plied Puget Sound in the era before state-run public transit. All the vessels were privately owned, initially unregulated, and often competed for business on the same routes, with the first ship to the dock getting the lion’s share of the fares.

The Virginia V is powered by a 400-hp, double-expansion, three-cylinder steam engine, built in 1898. The 115-year-old engine has a maximum RPM of 200, although it mostly spins at about 80 or 90 RPM. She used to be oil-fired but today burns diesel to develop steam.

Our route took us down the Washington Ship Canal and through the Chittenden Locks. Lake Union is at a higher elevation than Puget Sound, hence the need for the locks.

Locking through is a neat experience. The huge, steel doors of the lock were open at one end as we came into the locks, then shut behind us. The water was then drained out of the lock as the ship dropped about 25 feet down. The doors at the other end of the lock were opened, and out we went, into the Sound.

The Virginia V doesn’t sail very often—she is crewed solely by volunteers. If she has a trip scheduled, and you happen to be in Seattle, make of day of it. It’s a very unique and enjoyable experience.

Link: Virginia V Public Schedule

Read further for a gallery of photos from our day aboard, as well as a quick video.
Read the rest of this entry »

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If you’re in the San Francisco Bay Area and have an interested in seeing huge, circular blades slicing through big redwood logs, head up to historic Sturgeon’s Mill this weekend, west of Sebastopol for their open house. They run the mill four times per summer. This is their first session of the year.

Here’s a post I wrote about it a couple of years ago, including some video of the mill in action.

 


Photo: Nik Schulz
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After heading out of Sedona we made our way over to Prescott for some more backcountry exploration and to say hello the team at Overland Journal.

A quick note: if you find yourself on Highway 89A about 20 miles northeast of Prescott, you’ll be within spitting distance of Jerome, AZ. Do yourself a favor and stop. Jerome is an old mining town that’s half deserted, half lived-in and 100% amazing. I’d tell you more but unfortunately we didn’t have time to stop. Word had it there was a BBQ on at the Overland Journal.

Update: Here’s a quick video of the trip.
Read the rest of this entry »


I realized I hadn’t written anything about our Southwest trip for awhile and, since we’re heading out on another trip soon, I thought I’d better get cracking. So here it is: Part 3.

After Canyon de Chelly we headed to Sedona, AZ. I’ll tell you right off the bat, it’s not much to see. It is beautifully situated, I’ll give it that. Towering walls of red rock surround it in dramatic fashion, but the town itself looked upscale suburban. We couldn’t even find a historic downtown, just a retail strip.

The road getting there was pretty good though. We came in on Schnebly Hill Road off of Highway 17. (See map below). Read the rest of this entry »