Sunday, December 29, 2013

GEO-tography: Shillouettes

It's time once again for a jealous look at what can be done with a camera on the off-road, IF the operator just has a tiny bit of skill and knowledge.

I've taken a fair number of these kinds of photographs, I must confess, not all of them intentional - well, very few of them intentional - ok, almost none of them intentional.

What I enjoyed about putting together this group of GEO-tography was realizing that for once, I already knew the technique of HOW to do it; IF only I had the eye to make it look good in the end. [I must confess, Photoshop helps me a lot.]

Monday, December 23, 2013

Scott Expedition: South Pole By Boxing Day

The intrepid "explorers" Ben and Tarka are nearing the South Pole which marks the half-way point of their expedition. Let me tell you, from reading their almost daily blogs, it's been no small ordeal.   [Offroading Home has developed an extensive Google Earth Resource File which brings all the meaningful resources together in one place and it's available free: Google Earth Trail FileScott Expedition: Antarctica]

The two decided to follow in the footsteps of the ill-fated Scott Expedition and try for an unsupported, self-propelled trip from McMurdo Bay to the South Pole and return. Unsupported, in this case, means that nobody runs out and gives them hot chocolate as they lumber by pulling their sledges full of camping gear and satellite electronics.

That doesn't mean that they don't have a support team, because they do, they just aren't on the same continent.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Colorado Backroads & 4WD Trails: Grand Junction - Winching

This is the fifth and final post in the series about the new map we've digitized from a book we've come across: Guide to Colorado Backroads & 4-Wheel Drive Trails, Vol. 2by Charles A. Wells.

You remember, the absolutely prolific offroading author who feels it a badge of honor to have never used any of "those new-fangled GPS gadgets." His books are a dichotomy of usefulness. On the one hand they bulge with useful "color" and information about every area he talks about; but, on the other, much of the time you can't find what he talks about on any map or globe.

None-the-less, I've (for reasons which escape me now) undertaken the task of hand-digitizing his descriptions into Google Earth map files - twice. And both of them are available for free (see below).

Monday, December 2, 2013

Scott Expedition: Resource Map Update

For those of you following along with us on the "Scott Expedition," Ben and Tarka are now on the Beardmore Glacier after 38 days slogging through the Antarctic weather on the Ross Ice Sheet.

Until now the only topography they've encountered has been what the sheet of frozen water has afforded them but now they've got the land mass to deal with. Fortunately for us, we've got Google Earth and the many modern-day resources available which allow us to join their endeavor from our cozy armchairs.

Offroading Home has developed an extensive Google Earth Resource File which brings all the meaningful resources together in one place and it's available free: Google Earth Trail FileScott Expedition: Antarctica

Today we've updated it extensively and we should probably describe the new features:

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Scott Expedition: The Worst Journey in the World

You understand that Offroading Home has been following the "Scott Expedition" currently underway at the South Pole. In fact, we've made an entire Google Earth file containing nearly every landmark and historic trail we can find, so you won't need to go looking for them yourselves.

Today we've pulled together an entire BBC docudrama video about the book "The Worst Journey In The World" based on Apsley Cherry-Garrard's memoir of the British Antarctic Expedition in 1910-1913.

Why do this? Well, one page seems like a good place to have ALL the video series. They're not all that easy to find in sequence. And, as far as the GE map is concerned, the way GE displays cartologic labels really doesn't work in the Antarctic.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Colorado Backroads & 4WD Trails: Steamboat Springs

This is the fourth in the series of posts about the new map we've digitized from a book we've come across: Guide to Colorado Backroads & 4-Wheel Drive Trails, Vol. 2by Charles A. Wells.

Wells is a smart guy and very knowledgeable about the area just doesn't share most of our affinity for the precise coordinate system that we've had since the last century – or any coordinates. The forwards to his books claim that he's never had any problem finding any of this by merely using maps so we shouldn't either; but, in his later books he has relented and included "those funny little numbers" in deference to "the younger generation."

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Scott Expedition Resource File

The "un-official," but extensive Google Earth Map and Resource file for the Scott Expedition underway now in Antarctica has been extensively updated and is ready for download: Google Earth Trail FileScott Expedition: Antarctica

It now includes "network links" to the team's current position so that a mere "refresh" to the map will load the new locations instead of needing to download the whole file again. Additionally, entire new folders have been added to include labels and locations of all Antarctic glaciers and mountain peaks as well as labels and links to trails and waypoints of previous expeditions on the continent.

Currently (Wed 10/24 AM) Ben and Tarka are sleeping after having arrived at McMurdo station on the Ross Ice Shelf in the wee hours of the morning. They are still about 32 kilometers from the Scott Hut, their "official" starting point on the expedition.

Recommended Reading: South Pole: 900 Miles on Foot by Gareth Wood and Eric Jamieson. It recounts a similar journey to follow Scott's epic exploration by Roger Mear, Robert Swan and Canadian Gareth Wood.

Are You Going To Get The Book?

If you are planning on purchasing this book, I'd like to entreat you to do it via this link to Amazon: South Pole: 900 Miles on Foot That way you'll still pay the same price but a portion of it will go toward keeping Offroading Home "on the air." Thanks!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

New Map: Antarctic Glaciers and Ice Flows

The "Scott Expedition" – a retrace (and completion) of the ill fated Robert Scott Terra Nova expedition – is underway with the explorers finally "feet down" on the Antarctic Continent.

Extreme explorers Ben Saunders and Tarka L’Herpiniere are re-tracing the 101-year-old, unfinished, route of Captain Scott completely "without support" – that is, beginning after they actually arrive at the abandoned hut on the Ross Ice Shelf. Before that, they have a lot of support and were required to book passage with a commercial Antarctic travel firm in order to get there.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

New Map: Antarctic 1500 Meter Mountain Peaks

We've been updating you with occasional posts about the upcoming "Scott Expedition" being undertaken this winter (Southern Hemisphere) by explorers Ben Saunders and Tarka L’Herpiniere across Antarctica.

It looks like it's imminent. The two explorers are now in Punta Arenas putting together their stoves and other equipment shipped earlier to the tip of South America by freighter. They will now hop over to the Ross Ice Shelf near the hut Captain Robert Falcon Scott used in his 1911/12 Terra Nova expedition.

That's where Ben and Tarka will officially begin their expedition six days from now, (Oct 21st); although, it will be some weeks before they actually leave all the "confusion" of snow mobiles and scientists scurrying around the US Scientific Base on "the shelf."

Friday, September 13, 2013

Scott Expedition: One Month To Blast-Off

I've written about this before when they were in their "shake-down" treck across the snowy wastes of Iceland; but, believe it or not Ben and Tarka are but a mere four weeks away from their "real" expedition in Antarctica.

Ben Saunders and Tarka L'Herpiniere (extreme cold expeditioners both) are, along with their team, undertaking to "finish" Captain Robert Falcon Scott's ill-fated foot-treck to the South Pole during this Antarctic winter.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Colorado Backroads & 4WD Trails: Winter Park

This post is the third one I've written to introduce the new map we've digitized from the book: Guide to Colorado Backroads & 4-Wheel Drive Trails, Vol. 2by Charles A. Wells.

It's a sequel to his first trail book about Colorado, called by the same name; except this one is volume 2 and covers the more northerly portion of the state. Wells has divided the trails in his book into five areas and this post is about area three – the area which includes Winter Park.

As we've mentioned, the book has absolutely NO reference to the geologic coordinates required of today's trail guides.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Colorado Backroads & 4WD Trails: Grand Lake

This is the second in the series of posts about the new map we've digitized from a new book we've come across: Guide to Colorado Backroads & 4-Wheel Drive Trails, Vol. 2by Charles A. Wells. And by "we" I mean I.

The book is a sequel of sorts to his initial "volume 1" which covered the more southern portion of the state and overlaps to a certain extent the trails already contained in our previous map: Colorado Trails. And fortunately a number of the trails we've already digitized are in the same area so connect to a certain extent.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Colorado Backroads & 4WD Trails: Fort Collins

I've been spending much of my summer free time trying to digitize a new offroad book (well at least new to me) which I've just gotten access to: Guide to Colorado Backroads & 4-Wheel Drive Trails, Vol. 2by Charles A. Wells.

You remember the guy. He wrote his "Volume 1" several years ago and, in frustration, I digitized it - much to the chagrin of my poor 'ol balding head. After the excruciatingly difficult experience I swore I'd not do another book with so little coordinate information to go on – well… here we are.

That's the issue after all isn't it? To supply better geo-coordinates for those who don't have it.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Offroad: Lower North Valley & Seeps ATV Trail

To the south of Mesquite Nevada, in fact to the south of Bunkerville, is a large, flat, sandy bajada known as Bunkerville Flats. It is divided into east and west portions by the substantial Nickel Creek Ravine and is the unassuming portal to a "magical" valley – which is where we are going to ride today.

North Valley! Ahhh, dad and I have fond memories the first time we "explored" it – only about six years ago now. We were snowbirding "in the warm" (Mesquite that year) and had my ATVs with us. Simple, little, meek things that enabled us "old codgers" to get out from under-foot and see the world.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Interstate Exits: New Mexico KML File

This is the eleventh and final map in the series about Interstate Exits in the western U.S. – whew!

New Mexico is by no means the least of the western states, but it is one with the fewest submitted offroad trail maps. I've never had the pleasure to ride in the state, nor have we had many submitters from there. A trend we'd like to change.

This is one of the "four corner" western states with Colorado, Utah and Arizona. It's a state where humans are outnumbered by… well… pretty much EVERYTHING! With only 12 people per square mile it's hard not to be.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Interstate Exits: California KML File

It's finally here! I've been putting off doing the Google Earth (GE) KML for California interstate exits because of its size; but, I guess there's no stalling any longer. Somebody's gotta do it and I guess I'm the one.

This is the tenth such file I've created for the interstates in the west so you would think it would'a been easy, but it wasn't. Well, not so's ya'd know it much.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Interstate Exits: Montana KML File

Montana! Big Sky Country! Yellowstone! The ninth in the series of Google Earth (GE) KML maps I'm making to snazzy up the labels on the interstates in the western part of the country.

Now that I can open this map up in background of GE, I can tell where I'm at when a trail book advises "turn south at exit 27" as they all are want to do these days.

It's been no small feat but this is the ninth in the series of such files and leaves only California and New Mexico left to do.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Interstate Exits: Arizona KML File

We're on the home stretch of our journey through the interstate exits of the western states. As you can't possibly not know, I've been laboring through making Google Earth (GE) KML files in order to make up for the program's lack of labels.

It's been a thorn under my blanket for years that when nearly all the trail books I've read tell me to "turn left off interstate exit 253" I have absolutely no way of following along on Google Earth – cause there are no labels! Frankly, often when I zoom in to be able to even see some of the back-country roads, I have absolutely no clue where on the globe I've got to.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Tony Hillerman Quote on the Sierra Club

I think that if you have even casually read the Offroading Home blog you realize our interest in pretty much all things Native American midst our intense interest in providing free offroad trail maps.

Tony Hillerman is a world renowned Native American historian, author, conservationist and advocate of the land who has written upwards of thirty books, always informing and entertaining.

He not only understands and appreciates the land and landscapes but he probably is one of the most skilled observers of people, their needs, habits and motives of any author alive today.

Here is his take on the Sierra Club and people like them.

"I must say that some people look on me as, at best, a mixed blessing. Especially guys like Dan Murphy. The people who really love the landscape. They love it because it's empty. And it stays empty only if people stay away from it – and nobody's there but them, right?

Sorta the same as - I sometimes think it's the same attitude that causes a lot of people to support the Sierra Club. I mean, they love the country. And they love it better if the hoi polloi [Ed. - ignorant masses, common people uncultured and apt to act stupidly] is not there – the barber and the working man, you know, and it's left for the culturally elite who really appreciate it… right?

So they don't have to mingle when they get there with somebody who went to a state supported teachers college, you know strictly ivy leaguers."
Tony Hillerman

Pretty much sums it up, doesn't it?

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Interstate Exits: Colorado KML File

This is the seventh of our maps of the U.S. interstate exits and puts us well on our way to completing all the western states, which is our goal. Here is the Google Earth KML map for Colorado.

Eventually, we'll be able to load these files in the background and make up for the fact that Google Earth doesn't handle interstate exit labels very well - in fact not at all.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Interstate Exits: Idaho KML File

The sixth, and nowhere near the end, of our posting about maps for the interstate exits of the western U.S. states – this one for Idaho.

These, of course, are Google Earth maps, of the .kml file type, which can be loaded in the background whenever you are trying to find locations in the state. This because GE really doesn't handle the area navigational labels at all well. The National Geographic and other advertising placemarks it inflicts on us all too well, but the road labels leave a lot to be desired.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Interstate Exits: Nevada KML File

This is the fifth in our series of Google Earth (GE) files containing all the interstate exits located within the western states is for Nevada, one of my home stomping grounds.

After serendipitously stumbling upon the data which I've been searching for the past several years, I decided to digitize them for others to use; because, as you know, good old GE doesn't have them in its repertoire.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Interstate Exits: Oregon KML File

The fourth installment in what seems like is turning out to be almost a life's work. I'm trying to make up for Google Earth's (in fact the entire internet's) lack of publicly accessible geo-coordinates for the exit locations along the interstate system.

It's a maddening exercise trying to follow along one of the trail books which gives directions in terms of freeway exit numbers - cause Google Earth has no such labels. Then try and "Google" it - you do get one or two worthwhile hits but they all want you to join their society or download sophisticated software (for a fee) or merely display the numbers on a proprietary, protected PDF file.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Interstate Exits: Utah KML File

This is the third in a series of KML, Google Earth, files I am preparing for Offroading Home concerning the Interstate Road system, its exits and the lack of labels for them on digital maps.

When the DOT didn't respond to my several requests to make their Geo-data available in a user-friendly form, I kept seeking for other sources. I did find some and have begun the painstaking process of coding them into the .kml file type structure which can be used in Google Earth. This one joins the group with coverage of Utah.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Interstate Exits: Washington KML File

This is the second in a series of KML, Google Earth, maps that I am creating covering the Interstate system of roads and their exits in the western US states.

Google Earth is conspicuous in its absence of labels for exits on the road system; yet, that seems to be the favored method of describing routes to the various destinations in offroading trail books published these days. In fact, you need to navigate so close to the ground that you can't even tell where you are before Google even turns on many of the state road labels – and none of them are for the exits.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Interstate Exits: Wyoming KML File

One of the deficiencies, if you can call it that, of Google Earth is that it doesn't list the interstate exit numbers as one of its many options for labels. Perhaps it's just us map-making geeks that even notice it but it's been a thorn in my side for years and years while I've been trying to digitize trail maps on Google Earth.

And for just as long I've been trying to get the Department Of Transportation (DOT) to cough up their data in a publicly useable format – no joy. I'm not even convinced that I ever reached an official DOT employee. Now, I've found a source for the coordinates and have spent more hours than I thought it would take in producing Google Earth files for all the western states (where most of our available trails are located.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Norgay and Hillary on Everest: 60 Years Ago Today

The world – well, a lot of people – are commemorating the 1953 first summit of Mount Everest today by the late Sir Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tensing Norgay. It's a huge to-do in Nepal, Australia and New Zealand.

The Auckland Museum has been publishing the last 19 days of Hillary's diary to cover the final push to the summit. I read it completely and had such a difficult time navigating through the thing due to all the redundant advertising and navigation issues that I didn't want others to have to wade through it. I've included the diary entries below. I've also included a Google Earth map that you can download.   [A free Google Earth file of this route is available: Google Earth Trail FileGet the map.]

Friday, May 17, 2013

The Scott Expedition: Greenland

If you're thinking that you didn't need to follow the Scott Expedition because I would probably do it for you – you were correct, I did.

Not quite like being there any more than reading Bill Bryson's book about hiking the Appalachian Trail, but for us armchair relegated types it was a good adventure none-the-less.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

The Scott Expedition - Antarctica

Hold onto your hats, the Scott Expedition is back underway. Perhaps you remember when I posted a year or so ago that I had discovered the blog of Ben Sanders after viewing a TED talk.

He's the guy that was the third in history to ski solo to the North Pole and holds the record for the longest solo Arctic journey by a Briton.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Offroad: Radio Crystal-Helifino Pass

I'm still trying to clear out a couple of trails that were neglected from last years (2012) riding season and this ride is one of them – a terrific day with Dad and Gordon on our ATVs down to "the lower butte." To places we've already seen a few times.

Why go again? Well, I'll tell you. First, as far as I'm concerned there's no better place to be in southeast Nevada; Second, if "Harry and the fiends" [Reed, D-Nevada and Sierra Club PAC] have their way, most seniors would never see it again; and, Third, its better than Disney – you can never see it all!   [A free Google Earth file of this route is available at: Google Earth Trail FileOffroading Home.]

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Offroad: 21 Goats Petroglyphs

What do you do when you've been to a place many times, wish you could be there even more and someone tells you that now the only way you can be where you've always been is to be one of the "pretty people" in their private click?

That's the dilemma that we have right here on Gold Butte and if we think what the government did to native people has ended we're mistaken. The government, in the form of the BLM, still shows their avarice; but, now it's for whoever has the money – I'm looking at you Sierra Club and Harry Reid.

If you're one of the "pretty people" who still has stamina and good joints – You're the ones the BLM-Sierra has decided are deserving to be able to see the glyphs.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Offroad: Davidson's-Toquop Wash

I feel a bit bad that it's taken me this long to post one of the nicest rides we took during last years riding season: The Davidson Graves-Toquop Gap Loop.

It was one of the few rides that dad felt he could go on, not too long, not too far away, of historical interest and not too bumpy.

We trailered to one of the common trailheads around Mesquite – the East Mesa Interchange Trailhead (commonly called "the truck stop" by locals). That's the easiest and most convenient access point to the Mormon Mountains from Mesquite. There are several graded dirt roads, which that year had been maintained for the use of the power line they were putting in.

It only has one problem, which will become evident as the tale unfolds, and that is: there isn't but one or two east-west trails crossing the whole mesa and if you miss one of them it's a long way to the other.

To begin, it's almost a straight shot north to the East Mormon Mountains. The gap the trail runs through is formed under Davidson Peak which is named after the ill fated family whose graves solemnly attest to the struggles of the early settlers of this land and where we will make a stop.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Rare Joshua Tree Bloom In Full Swing

It's that time of year again – the Joshua Tree's are blooming in the Mojave Desert. Only this year it's the rare full out effort!

Our first year of snowbirding in Mesquite, SIX years ago, we were treated to the magnificent splendor of riding through our newly discovered old growth Joshua Tree forest in North Valley a couple of weeks before we re-migrated back up north for the summer. If you haven't been there, the trees are all above your head in a canopy and are all hundreds of years old as evidenced by their extensive branching.

The crisp protected valley's air was so sweet with fragrance you could taste it on your lips. We'd never seen such a site before and were eagerly awaiting the site again the next year. Unfortunately, it was not to happen.

Monday, January 28, 2013

GEO-tography: Lakes

More and more these days a criterion we look at when we decide where to go for a ride into the back roads, is: "Oh look, it goes right by Lake Whatchamacallit."

If rivers and streams are the noisy adolescents, lakes have got to be the wizened old grand dad whose porch you'd like to sit a spell on. They've got a whole different feeling to them, and it's a rare one indeed that doesn't make you wish you had your fishing pole with you… and your folding lounge chair… and a cold drink.

Snapping a photograph or two to bring back and show the family can even make your ride through the desert seem ten degrees cooler. And getting a good one shouldn't be too difficult as most body's of water are quite photogenic.

However, there are a couple of points that you need to watch for when you point your camera in their direction. They are most often characterized by their quiet beauty or reflective charm.


While you are trying to focus on the water, actually take a moment to LOOK at it; what do you see IN it? I mean besides the ducks. Often it's the reflections in the water that make a photograph stand out.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Lakeview Mine Loop

What I'm calling the "RZR Gang" – Hugh, Vicki, Jerry and Gordon – took their latest offroading adventure down to Lake Mead, only this time onto the "back porch."

The western edge of the Gold Butte peninsula is probably close to being the most remote area within 500 miles. (How remote is it?) It's so remote that even Harry Reid doesn't think he needs to include it in his "let's block off Nevada" wilderness bills.

Of course there is the fact that the Park Service pretty much already owns between three and ten miles depth of shoreline all around the lake under the Lake Mead National Recreation Area (NRA).

There used to be many people down that-a-way working in the several mines along the shore – including the one that they visited on this trip; but now about the only warm blooded things there now are the wild burrows.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Offroad: Mesquite to Overton Nevada

We've posted before about the offroad trip from Mesquite to Overton touching both the Virgin River and the historic Old Spanish Trail, but the trip is such a yearly tradition it deserves re-gifting.

The first of this month (Jan 2013) Hugh took Gordon and Mary, Jerry and Chellen and Craig and Vicki on the trip and stopped at Sugar's for lunch. Often, because the trail is so dusty and filled with "whoop-de-do's", the wives don't go; but, after the recent rains everyone got out on the rigs.