Day two of our pre-Trans-Am road trip took us through Tehachapi where we savored hillsides a-sweep in beautiful mauve flowers and patches of purple lupin. Our goal was a short stop in Death Valley (National Park #2) to enjoy the super-bloom of wildflowers before heading to St. George, Utah, but spontaneous side trips got us only as far as the outskirts of Las Vegas.
On the spur of the moment we decided to stop for a quick break at Trona Pinnacles, a BLM-managed National Natural Landmark that consists of more than 500 tufa (calcium carbonate structures we mostly associate with Mono Lake). Turns out our 5 minute break turned into a 90 minute excursion since we took the opportunity to stretch our legs by doing a short hike and then a short bike ride. Having Brighton try to keep up with us on our bikes turned out to be a great way to his legs as well as ours.
The Trona tufa are the largest tufa in North America and while the name of this site may not be familiar, most of us have seen it since as it often serves as the backdrop for SciFi movies (Planet of the Apes, Lost in Space, the Gate II, and Star Trek V (double ugh), to name a few).
The area has a network of off-road trails winding through the tufa to support off-road vehicles. Unfortunately, it is also home to endangered desert tortoises so it’s one of those places we periodically read about as a tension point between recreationalists and environmentalists.
This unexpectedly delightful excursion is why we’re planning on five months to cross the country.
And don’t worry. Posting two days in a row will be an exception. We expect that we’ll typically post only 1 time/week.