Monday, December 28, 2009

Ride 11: Horse Spring-Valatier Ridge-GB Mine

Lower Gold Butte from Valatier Peak
You've heard of the "road less traveled"? Well, this is the road-less-traveled's road less traveled!  [For a free Google Earth file of this route see: Ride 11: Horse Spring-Valatier Ridge-GB Mine]

We took Gordon's RZR and my Kodiak for an 'explore' that even Christopher Robbin and Pooh would be proud of!

You know, the ride down New Gold Butte Road through our 'million acre woods' is a bit long; and, when you've done it a few times, a bit…

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Ride 10: 3-Corners Explore

After our pleasant ride to the 3-corners area a few days ago, several of us wanted to give the benefit of the doubt to the potential toe-rags who removed the geo-cache and flag and see if they might have merely "moved it" to the "true" 3-corners.   [For a free Google Earth file of this route see: Ride 10: 3-Corners Explore]

If any of you have zoomed in to a close up of Google Earth (where Utah, Nevada and Arizona are supposed to meet) you find that they don't! I can honestly say that I have never noticed a tiny bump-out glitch along the Nevada maps east side – but it's there plain as day on Google Earth.

Now why would people think that Utah, Nevada and Arizona all meet in one place? Well it's because…

Friday, December 25, 2009

Native Plants of Southern Nevada

Creosote Bush, leavesThe book Native Plants Of Southern Nevada
by David Rhode
is a real find and a help during a ride in the desert. I ran across this book a couple of years ago and the man really knows his stuff!

Most of the time for the past several months the book has set by my computer while I've been updating the Offroading Home website; but, it is really handy as a field guide to help you identify and understand the plants in this area of the desert around Mesquite Nevada as you ride.

For example, you almost can't spit around here without hitting Larrea tridentata, or "ya'tam'pi"…

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Ride 9: 3-Corners/Lytle Ranch Loop

This is a great ride over widely-varied and historic terrain and is both a destination and scenic type of trail.   [For a free Google Earth file of this route see: Ride 9: 3-Corners/Lytle Loop]

BJ and I trailered up to the
Mormon Wagon Road Trailhead , Utah USA
[37.010423, -113.912540]
  on Old Highway-91 in Utah. We got a bit later start than we usually do but…

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Ride 8: Nevada Mica Mine

This was a good days ride and the photo doesn't do it justice! Today Gordon and I RZR'd down to explore the "middle - lower Gold Butte" area [a.k.a. the "middle" of the Lower Gold Butte riding area – sort of between the Gold Butte townsite and the Nevada Mica Mine.]

Under the "Fiends of Gold Butte's" plan that whole area would be considered "wilderness" and automatically off-limits to motorized vehicles – but…

Monday, December 14, 2009

Map Update: California Trails - Central Mountains

This was a fun update, largely due to the weird and varied trails which run through areas which I tangentially know. I just wish I would have had these maps when I was in the Navy in California. [For a free Google Earth file of this route see: California Trails

I was able to obtain the use of a copy of California Trails Central Mountains Region and spent several hours updating all the trailhead waypoints along with improving the descriptions of the trail. In some cases I needed to hand-draw trails that the book had omitted.

There are several trails running along old highway 1 on the coast. "Old number one" has a great view, I can only imagine what looking down at the ocean from the cliffs above the coast would be like.

Sometimes the road less traveled is less traveled for a reason.”
Jerry Seinfeld

There are great wooded campsites and trails but I do need to warn you that California has a lot of "protected" areas in one sense or the other with their own "rules" about who, when and how they are used. This translates in some cases to fees and permits so please check with the governing authority and/or local riding clubs when you are planning a visit.

Also, if you live in the area and find that some of these trails have either changed or closed please let me know so I can alter the maps accordingly.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Ride 7: Whitmore Mine Trail

On a Sunday afternoon out for a "little" drive we decided to take a look at where the Old Spanish Trail runs along the freeway for a ways. Going West on I-15 from Mesquite we exited at the first truck stop and we were there.   [For a free Google Earth file of this route see: Ride 07: Whitmore Mine Trail]

There is an exit out the fence onto a dirt road which has all the appropriate signs but it sure looks like an ordinary dirt road to me. It runs along the freeway as sort of a "frontage road" for awhile then takes off across the desert every which way.

The one heading toward Mormon Mountains looked so wide and inviting that we decided to see how far we could get...

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Ride 6: Northeast Mesquite Flats

This ride has almost become the "search for the Northwest Passage" for us. We have friends in Beaver Dam Arizona and keep thinking that "there just has to be a way to get there from here."   [For a free Google Earth file of this route see: Northeast Flats]

Unfortunately, there are a LOT of 2-wheel drive eating chasms between here and there and we have never made it despite three tries.

The Mesa Boulevard trailhead is convenient to ride the area (just at the top of Mesa Boulevard) and you are soon down in the flats next to the freeway. The sandy trail rides parallel

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Ride 5: Upper - Lower Gold Butte: "Nada" Mine

There are so many places to ride down on Gold Butte that it's a bit difficult to describe your ventures to people.   [For a free Google Earth file of this route see: Upper-Lower Gold Butte]

You see Gold Butte, the "fat thumb" of land projecting from Mesquite toward Lake Mead, is divided (for riding purposes) into "Upper," "Middle" and "Lower." UPPER, of course, is on top and contains what locals call the "petroglyph trail" as well as several camping areas.

MIDDLE, is the strip of land which runs on both sides of Mud Wash and contains places like the Grotto, Devil's Throat and Devil's Fire as well as some very scenic riding and hiking.

The LOWER, basically, is everything below the middle — as it should be in an organized world.

The division is more than arbitrary because

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Snowbirds Delight - (Neaner Neaner Neaner)

Looky what we got! It's in the mountains out our back door but stops 2/3 the way down.

However, there is a bit of a difference between Mesquite snow and Utah snow.

We still have dry streets, we still have shirt-sleeve weather and we can still go riding — neaner, neaner, neaner!

I think that Google may have heightened the color intensity of this photo a bit in the upload; but, we still have green trees with most of their leaves, the golf courses are still green, the desert dirt is an iron rich dusty reddish brown and now… the tops of the mountains are white and we can throw snowballs whenever we wan't to – which honestly isn't very often.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Ride 4: Lime Kiln Loop with Cabin Canyon "Kicker"

The ride was one we had taken enough times for it to become a comfortable tradition; but, this time we rode with some "fresh eyes," which were fun to watch while they did their "discovery," and with just enough difference to keep it from becoming stale.   [For a free Google Earth file of this route see: Lime Kiln Loop with "Kicker"]

Riding up Lime Kiln Canyon into Parashant Grand Canyon is grand any time you take it. And if you've been there enough times to remember specific plants and/or animals you've seen (or hope to see again) the search for growth or other change generates great

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Ride 3 - Petroglyph Trail

Charley, Gordon and I took our first trip down to "the Butte" to reconnoiter what the BLM might be up to this year. Well… it was a singularly "unique experience" to say the least   [For a free Google Earth file of this route see: Gold Butte Petroglyph Trail]

We really weren't planning on actually hunting down the glyphs, just to check the trail for future rides. The first thing we noticed (on the Thanksgiving weekend) was the increased number of riders (even for a Saturday). We had a chance to chat with a few of them and found that

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Ride 2 - North Valley-Cabin Canyon Loop

Riders of the East Bunkerville Flats trails realize that there are several issues which must be taken into account.   [For a free Google Earth file of this route see: North Valley-Cabin Canyon Trail]

One is that there is an "area of environmental concern" on the East side of the flats. Another is that there are many trails which have been "designated" and some which have been "un-designated" - some on the map and some not - and many times the only way to get there is to "go around."

We decided to explore some of the trails which we have ignored to date and at the same time go up to see how "our valley" is doing.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Gastronomy: "Virgin River" Prime Rib

Every once in awhile I need to keep reminding everyone that this blog actually started out as a blog about snowbirding between Mesquite and Salt Lake City. This year, whether it's the economy or what, Mesquite has been a "colder" place than we've experienced before.

However Charley's wife told me that the prime-rib over at the Virgin River Casino was a real good deal and we had never tried it. "You're kidding," I said "That's really real?"

You see, for years we've all seen the huge billboards all the way

Monday, November 23, 2009

Map Update: Arizona Trails - South

Finally, I've been able to put the finishing touches on this summers' "Update Arizona Trails Map" project. [For a free Google Earth file of this route see: Arizona Trails Map]

I was able to obtain the loan of the book: Arizona Trails South Region by Peter Massey and and his friends from Adler Publishing.

The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page.”
Saint Augustine

All of the descriptions are complete now for thirty-three trails in the South Region which is along the Mexico border and around Tuscon. That makes over a hundred trails in Arizona all mapped out with downloadable tracks, and descriptions of directions to trailheads, mileage, map availability and major things to see on the ride.

For those interested in a "winter" ride - this could be the place. There are mines, mountains, lakes, trees and deserts. From short day trips to one long 2 day adventure.

Learn A Little More

The book Arizona Trails South Region is an excellent resource to plan an offroad trip in Arizona. Each route is accompanied by turn-by-turn navigational aids going in both directions and photos of sites along the way. If you are going to purchase it, please consider doing so using the links on this page. There will be no extra cost to you, but a portion will go to keeping this site going and the trails coming.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Snowbird Season Begins: Ride 1 - Lime Kiln Canyon

It's a whole new Snowbird season in more ways than one - a lot more! The 2009-20 rides begin with our annual "season opener" up Lime Kiln Canyon and into the Parashant Grand Canyon.   [For a free Google Earth file of this route see: Ride 01 - Lime Kiln/Red Pockets]

Three years ago, when we began the tradition, nearly every time we went up the Canyon we had it pretty much to ourselves.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Map Update: Arizona Trails - Central

This should make Arizona readers happy! All the trails in the most populated area of the state have been newly updated with complete descriptions. [ For a free Google Earth file of this route see: Arizona Trails ]

I've had the tracks in the master Arizona map file complete for over a year and have been trying to get around to all the typing necessary to complete the descriptions with distances, times, things to see etc. etc. etc..

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Mesquite Eats Snowbirds - "Reliance Connects" Top Abuser

I wish I could say it was the time zones or "Daylight Savings" sleep shifting which was the cause of my lack of "Oomph" the past couple of weeks. I mean, what small amount of wind there ever was under my sails seems to have taken a sabbatical!

We already knew that there was really no comparison between the welcoming Snowbird experience in St. George and that of the "here comes fresh meat" one in Mesquite; but, where last year it was tolerable, this year it seems to have sucked the soul right out of me.

Our reasons for choosing Mesquite over the much more snowbird friendly St. George? Very close and unique offroad experiences and less traffic on the streets. Two reasons which hold less and less meaning for us each day.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

New Background Maps For Garmin Users

As if you needed any more reason to gloat, those of you who own Garmin GPS units have yet one additional reason for being glad you do — the new Map Overlay feature just announced for the Colorado, Oregon (200, 300, 400 and 550), and Dakota models.

Unlike the rest of us who are still dependant on the "altruism" of our manufacturers to "get around" to updating our background maps – and of course pay their exhorbitant fees – you can now "update" your maps to any image that you find more useful.

To top it all off, the process uses our favorite free geo-graphic program – Google Earth. And adding insult to our already burdensome Garmin-envy, our other favorite program, GPSvisualizer, is just waiting to make your new-found ability plush with multiple kinds of maps (subject of the next tutorial).

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Map Update: Arizona Trails, West

To continue the endeavor which began last week, I obtained an Arizona Trails West Region (Arizona Trails Backroads Guides) book and typed away at all the descriptions.

Therefore, once again this week, the Arizona Trails master file has been upgraded with completely new descriptions in the Western region. [For a free Google Earth file of this route see: Offroading Home: Arizona Trails]

But, it's almost getting too cold to type — my guess is that it'll be time to start migrating soon.

Learn A Little More

The book Arizona Trails West Region (Arizona Trails Backroads Guides) is an excellent resource to plan an offroad trip in Arizona. Each route is accompanied by turn-by-turn navigational aids going in both directions and photos of sites along the way. If you are going to purchase it, please consider doing so using the links on this page. There will be no extra cost to you, but a portion will go to keeping this site going and the trails coming.

Friday, October 23, 2009

New Trails: Arizona, Northeast

Thanks to a generous benefactor who loaned me their Arizona Trails Northeast Region book, the Arizona Trails master file has been upgraded with new descriptions and several new trails in the Northeast region. [For a free Google Earth file of this route see: Offroading Home: Arizona Trails]

All the Arizona Northeast Region trails now have directions to the starting and ending locations, in addition to the standard length, time and months open.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Entertainment: Hale Centre Theater - "Curtains"

Wow! What a theatrical experience! However… my Tensor Tympani is still in lactic acidosis from the workout.

As soon as the "disclaimer" announcer came on before the curtain went up and was unintelligibly buried behind the over-modulated "background" music — I knew we had drawn the 'punk-rocker' audio man who had blown out his cochlea on heavy-metal.

I just wish that the producer/directors/sound designers (Sally Dietlein/Jennifer Hohl/Dan Morgan) would interject some form of standardization or quality control into their sound design. We go from crack-all-your-fillings in Treasure Island to the magnificent audio of Scarlet Pimpernell and things in-between – all in one Hale Center Theater season.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Not Gonna' Happen This Year

The one thing that I look most forward to all year has blown up in my face… the annual ride up to Kennecott overlook with my bud Jeff and his kids.

That's what you get, I guess, when you put it off till the fall like we did. The weather turns cold and the kids don't seem to want to go out in it. We've done the ride ever since Herriman became summer snowbird headquarters.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

We Did What?!!!

I didn't think much about it when Mom and Dad were invited for a "drive" a couple of weeks ago by some life-long friends in Ogden.

They returned with the kind of fire in their eyes and the tannish glow to the skin that only being out of the house and outdoors brings. And they effused with blustery tails reminiscent of our old Boy Scout "Snipe hunting" adventures.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

New Area - New Trail

That's right — an entirely new tab on the website navigation bar! "ALL-ELSE" contains a master Google Earth file for all those submissions which don't fit in the other major offroading areas. [For a free Google Earth file of this route see: OffroadingHome/All-Else]

The first offroad track to populate the new master map was submitted by Bernie Cook who recently rode the Cambell Lake Loop ATV/UTV trail in Wyoming.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Summer Snowbirding: The Fall

The signs of the times are upon us. Our favorite source of produce, Fujiwara's Farmer's Market (on 124th S in Riverton, near I-15) is beginning to fill up with straw bales — an absolute indicator that Halloween is screaming down the path directly at us.

Unfortunately, that also means that our favorite thing to eat – succulent ears of sweet corn – is also coming to an end. The Fujiwara brothers apologize profusely, but what can they do? They've made an almost superhuman effort to keep their coolers stocked with corn in this "down" year for corn due to the prolonged early rains – but, alas, it is not meant to be.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

New Trails: California, Northern Sierra

Continuing the mad rush to return three offroading map books, I have now finished extensive updates to the California: Northern Sierra Region with many new hand-drawn trails from published waypoints and completely updated route descriptions.   [For a free Google Earth file of this route see: Offroading Home: California Trails]

Similar to those finished last week, Colorado: North Central, and the week before that, Colorado: Southwest, these trails are through beautiful forested country with significant historical significance.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

New Trails: Colorado North Central Region

Under the gun to see that the person who loaned me the book got it back in time — I continued the all-night vigil and hand entered more than 20 new trails in the Colorado North Central Region. All of the trail description's have also been improved and/or re-done.   [For a free Google Earth file of this route see: Colorado Trails]

Take a quick look on over to the website and see my handiwork! With the Southwestern Region done last week and the Front Range Region done last month, almost the entire Colorado map has been upgraded!

Now is probably a good time to explain how/why Offroading Home maps integrate with the written maps in the book: Colorado Trails North Central Region by Peter Massey et. al..

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

New Trails: Southwest Colorado

Somewhat like getting hit in the head with a rock, I just got a new book and found that it contained 25 more trails than what it had supplied on disk. That meant a lot of "hand drawing" of track lines and entering of waypoints if I wanted to add it to the master file — which I obviously did. [For a free Google Earth file of this route see: Colorado Trails]

Take a look on over at the web site and navigate to Colorado Trails Southwest Region, and see over 25 new trails and 23 other updated desctiptions, directions and locations.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Doing GPS: 201 - "From GPS to Google" (Part 3)

The adventure that you planned for weeks has come to fruition and you now have only memories of sights, sounds and smells to give you solace during your work-a-day existence.

But wait, you did remember to turn on your GPS and you have the whole thing down in digital format; but, how do you look at it during your coffee break? Lets plug that thing in, fire up our software and create a Google Earth file that will fly us over the whole trail.

This week we complete our understanding of "GPS Visualizer" and make a shareable KML file which fits our own personal preferences and requirements.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Jordan Districts - "Silver Crest" Elementary School

Finishing touches are still being put on Jordan School District's new elementary school near Snowbird Headquarters, probably even while the school kids watch longingly out the windows.

Needless to say the traffic pattern around the area has been a nightmare for the past year while they constructed the odd school. Why odd you ask... well, for one thing its an elementary school and it's two story. Not common.

And for another, they plunked it down right in the middle of about the only road into Herriman — hard to believe some money didn't line some pockets for that one!

But, the real oddity is the exorbitant price tag! It seems to me as if the entire school board had no more sense than a couple of adolescent newlyweds who think they absolutely can't live without a house and all the furnishings better than their parents.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Doing GPS: 105 - "'Visualizing' GPS Data"

What a bumpy ride making this screencast has been. After four tries it was still too long so I decided, yet again, to split discussing a new program - "GPS Visualizer" - into two parts.

'Visualizer' is such a broad, flexible program that putting its explanation into basic, plug-and-play language was nearly impossible. So I developed a basic 'template' of sorts which will allow you to nearly 'fall into' your first file.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Entertainment: Hale Centre Theater - The Scarlet Pimpernel"

Disport, diversion, entertainment - no matter what you call it, at least the latest production at Hale Center Theater fits the description.

As the house lights dimmed, it was obvious that the child size carousel on the focal point of the circular stage was already stage lit; and with the million dollar stage it was easy to make the whole parquet floor, on which it rested, rotate so "Marguerite" could enter and begin her opening sopranic solo.

At the second verse however, just as the music swelled, the entire stage rising (or audience sinking) to reveal a full size duplicate of the carousel complete with Elizabethan costumed riders, signaled that we were in for a "wild ride" (if only the audio didn't drive us out).

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Doing GPS: 104 - "From GPS to Google Earth"

I can't tell you how many emails I've answered about this topic with: "I'm working on a screencast for this." Now is the time.

Capturing your off-road journey onto your GPS unit is only the first part of the journey. You must want to prolong the pleasure for times when you are shut up in an office breathing recirculated air. Don't you?

Sure, you can lunge for the photo album, and re-live the adventure. But what if those photos were tagged onto a map which showed the trail you actually rode, over an actual detailed image of the earth? Now that's what I call reminiscing!

Monday, August 31, 2009

Free Topographic Maps - Addition to Offroading Home Files

utah with free topo maps overlayI mentioned it in the last webcast, but for those who haven't seen it yet you need to know about a new addition to all the master maps found over on the Offroading Home web site - FREE TOPO MAPS.

Trundle on over to the web site and select any of the master maps. You will notice that a new file for download has been added to all of the states indexes: "Find A … TOPO map."

If you download and open it in Google Earth you will see that the whole state is laid out in it's USGS 1:24,000 TOPO Quads and you simply choose one to download. That's it.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Doing GPS: 103 - "From the Moon to the Earth"

It's been quite awhile since the last episode of my screencast series "Doing Google Earth" so here is another piece of the puzzle.

I do have to apologize in advance for the length - there has been so much happen since last I "casted" that it was hard to fit it all in. But, even if you have to stop and take a potty break it may explain a lot that you were wondering about.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Deceitful Dirt

Who would have thought that an eighteen inch wide piece of dirt could be so ornery and downright deceitful, even if it was 45 feet long!

It began several years ago when the neighbor poured cement next to the fence and it oozed under. Tired of looking at the eye-sore, dad decided to simply put a length of "pressure treated" along it and plant something.

The good news was that the edging went in alright, the bad news was - that's where the sprinklers had been placed. We dutifully dug them up and re-routed them to the front of the boards.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Map Update: California Trails - South Coast

Like a cave dwelling recluse I've been pouring through California ATV maps and programming code trying to catch up with some of the things I've been putting off for months. [For a free Google Earth file of this state see: California Trails]

There were so many trails in the California areas that I sorta just "worried about the trails" and nothing else in order to get them posted. Now I've been going back and completing all the descriptions and organizing waypoints.

The California Trails: South Coast Region looks really good now with lots of descriptions and a few more hand drawn spur trails that I missed the first time around.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

New Look for an Old Site

Although I kinda liked the look of the "Offroading Home" web site, it's hard to ignore the nagging forever. I've been told that the pages looked sorta… spartan, and needed a bit more… oomph. Enter graphics and color and animation.

Most of you know, I just dabble at web programming. So, for me, it's been a bit daunting but an opportunity to learn something new.

And, it didn't turn out too bad. See the new look for yourself — Offroading Home (version 2). Lots more color and a bit more "offroadsey" look. Whadaya think? Please leave a comment.