Like I mentioned in my first post of this series, in September of this year I visited all eight of California’s rural regions. I was surprised in the best ways by how much I enjoyed each place for its own merits. While visiting Deserts I experienced one of the most fun evenings of my life at Trona Pinnacles. That’s where I’ll be begin my guide to this rural region in California…
I am so excited to be promoting California’s 8 rural regions for VisitCalifornia‘s #CaliforniaWild campaign with my fellow bloggers Ottsworld, Stuffed Suitcase and Border Free Travels. The ATTA is coordinating this effort and has given me freedom in how I share my experiences with you so that even though this is a paid project, I can assure you all opinions and words are my own.
Visiting Deserts to Photograph Trona Pinnacles at Night
One of the moments I was most looking forward to in our trip, occurred in the Desert between the towns of Trona and Ridgecrest. We visited the Trona Pinnacles at sunset and stayed until long after the Milky Way had appeared. Local residents came out with telescopes and star apps so they could help us find the very best spot to situate our cameras. They told us stories about the night sky and about the history of the area. We listened to a talk from the Bureau of Land Management which takes care of Trona Pinnacles. I had so much fun!! The skill of night photography is something I very much am still learning. However, it was fun to further hone those skills during this adventure.
The Trona Pinnacles are an unusual geological feature consisting of more than 500 tufa spires rising from the bed of the Searles Dry Lake Basin. The pinnacles vary in size and shape and are composed primarily of calcium carbonate. Formed underwater between 10,000 and 100,000 years ago, some of the spires are more than 140 feet high. Trona Pinnacles was made a National Natural Landmark in 1968 by the Department of the Interior. It might be recognizable to you as a filming location for more than a dozen hit movies. If you saw Planet of the Apes or Star Trek then Trona might look familiar.
Visiting Deserts for Taco Tuesday
Hilariously, we found ourselves in the town of Trona on a Tuesday. In internet land, that’s Taco Tuesday for us lovers of Mexican Food. And boy do I ever [love Mexican food]. After a visit with Margaret Brush who is the curator of Trona’s Old Guesthouse Museum, which Sherry writes about beautifully in this post, we had dinner at nearby Esparza Family Restaurant. They have an extensive menu so there are many more options if tacos aren’t your thing. Served up tiny, and three to a plate, my tacos put me in a state of complete bliss! It was a great way to fuel up for our long night out at Trona.
Visiting Deserts to Explore a Living Ghost Town
Randsburg: population 50. It’s called a “living ghost town.”
When we first arrived, we didn’t see a single soul. No human or animal. The sun was starting to set and the colorful, crumbling facades of the wooden buildings set aglow in the light seemed perfectly poised in a bygone time. We’d expected it to be quiet since we were told in advance the town businesses that are left only open on some days of the week. So we walked around and began to take a few photos of each other, many photos of the details – and after a while a wonderful thing began to happen, people started to appear.
We met an artist/woodworker who was quietly busy in a darkened studio with the door open to let fresh air (or intrepid explorers?) in. We were visited by a German Shepherd who was curious yet aloof. And we met the three town firefighters who work in 48 hour shifts to keep the town safe. They drive from as much as 100 miles away to call the town home during their times on call. We learned, from former gallery owner Cheryl Mcdonald, that the 2010 census recorded Randsburg as having 69 residents. We saw a ridiculously charming fixer upper for sale for such an affordable price I wanted to just buy it on the spot.
In between the initial stillness and the welcome we ended up receiving, I found a town whose worth can’t be measured in the size of its population. It’s in the length which its residents go to create a community that works for them yet which can be inclusive for the truly curious. For those willing to take their time.
Visiting Deserts to adopt a Wild Horse or Burro
Ok…..I didn’t actually adopt an animal during this trip. BUT I WANTED TO!! The BLM Wild Horse & Burro facility in Ridgecrest is an Animal Rescue Service where you can adopt a wild horse or burro for less than $200. I had so much fun visiting with the animals that were there waiting to be taken to good homes. On that note, I learned that anyone who does adopt one has to go through a year trial period to prove they can take good care of their adopted horse or burro. Since 1971, the BLM has placed more than 240,000 wild horses and burros into private care!