The first trip in my 1973 Chevy Blazer

April 03, 2004.

I Bought the 73’ Chevy Blazer March 23, 2004 and wanted to take it on a trip to break it in.  Ron and Lynne (who I rode along with on previous trips) wanted to take a trip toward Caliente Nevada.  So I took my Blazer and joined them.

I left the house about 7:15 am, filled up with gas and headed out.  I met Lynne at the exit off I-15 by the speedway and we drove to Logandale (about 50 miles) to meet Ron at his house.  As we were driving to Logandale I wondered if it was a good idea to go, since it looked like a bad storm was setting in and looked worse in the direction we were going.  But I put that idea aside and went on my merry way.

After we got to Ron’s house we helped him with some last minute packing and we checked out some differences between my 73’ Blazer and his 72’ Blazer.  Ron gave Lynne and I some goop to put in our tires if we got a flat which gave me a welcome to the club kind of feeling.  As were finishing up at Ron’s house it started raining and we went inside for a few minutes to discuss the route we were going to take.

The group consisted of Ron, his 2 sons Ryan and Randy, Gage their friend), Lynne, Luke (me) and Window (my dog).  From Ron’s house we went to a gas station to top off the tanks.  It was raining pretty hard now.  When I went to fill up I discovered I had left my gas cap at the gas station in Las Vegas!  Ron noticed his breaks didn’t feel right.  We went down the road a half mile or so to an auto parts store to look for a gas cap for me and to check out Ron’s brakes.  They had no gas cap for me so I used Duct Tape as a replacement cap for the day.  Ron found his brake fluid reservoir for his rear brakes was empty!  After buying some brake fluid Ron and Lynne bled the brakes, while I was tucking the Duct tape into the crevice around the hole where my gas cap used to be.

Still raining we headed back to I-15 then north about 7 miles.  The rain had stopped by the time we pulled off the freeway.  We all stopped for a minute and Ron checked under his hood for the smell that seemed to be coming from his truck on the freeway.  When he went to start his Blazer again it would not start.  Lynne gave Ron a jump start from her Toyota.  After it was started we checked the voltage output of his alternator to determine if it was charging and indeed it was.  We took a few minutes to discuss if we should continue on this trip or not.  Between the problems with Ron’s Blazer and me loosing my gas cap it seemed today was off to a bad start.  We decided to go for it any way so off we went.

We traveled along a frontage road on the north side of I-15 for about 4 miles and turned left (north).  The pavement ended a few hundred feet after the turn and it was dirt time!  The dirt road was a fairly smooth graded road so we traveled around 50 MPH.  After a short while it started getting fogy so we had to slow down.

When the fog cleared, it did so all at once.  What we saw when we came out of the fog was beautiful.  The desert was very green with spring growth.  We stopped to look around and noticed the fog we were in was a cloud with a very defined perimeter.  Looking back the way we came from was not like looking back into the fog where the visibility just keeps fading away as you look further into it.  It was more like looking at a dense wall and it was moving toward us (catching up).  It was going to cover us over again if we stayed there.  Before we started driving again, I ran across the desert to take a picture of this wall coming toward us and the green desert landscape we were in. 

Cloud wall headed toward us.
Cloud wall headed toward us.

Cloud wall headed toward us.
Cloud wall headed toward us.

Luke (me) and Window looking at each other by the Blazer.
Luke (me) and Window looking at each other by the Blazer.

Amazing how green the desert can be at the right time of year.
Amazing how green the desert can be at the right time of year.

Ron's Blazer, Luke's Blazer, Lynne's Toyota.
Ron's Blazer, Luke's Blazer, Lynne's Toyota.

Luke's Blazer.
Luke's Blazer.

While driving we enjoyed the green desert and lots of cows along the way.  After going past a few roads that went off in different directions we turned left (west) on a road that headed toward Lyman Crossing.Lyman Crossing is a ranch type area.  Well sort of I guess.  It didn’t really look much like a ranch but that’s what I was told it was.  There were a few buildings and a few junked cars.  One of the cars Ron brought to my attention over the CB.  It was an International Scout, truck style.  He pointed it out because I used to have a 67 International Scout.  From Lyman Crossing we broke off the main dirt road and crossed some railroad tracks on a less traveled road that headed North West.  This road climbed up through a mountainous area.  We stopped at a point along the road where there was a nice view of a gorge took some pictures and enjoyed the view.

Window, Ron and Lynne enjoying a view into the gorge.
Window, Ron and Lynne enjoying a view into the gorge.

One of the water tanks along side the road.
One of the water tanks along side the road.

After looking over the gorge, Ryan wanted to ride with me so he hopped in my Blazer and we were all on our way again.  The area we were in now was higher in elevation and had a lot more trees.  The area past the summit of the road we were on had a few water tanks along the side of the road.  We found a set of valves along side the road down in some concrete tubes, one of which had a dead snake in it.  Looked like the snake got in but couldn’t get out.  From here we descended back to a more desert like terrain with rocky mountains nearby, turned left (North East) onto Kane Springs Road and headed another 5 miles toward Elgin Nevada.  The Elgin area had lots of cotton wood trees.  It gave a picnic on the prairie kind of look to the area.  Just before reaching the point on the map labeled Elgin, Kane Springs Road ended at a T in the road.

Lynne on Kane Springs Road.
Lynne on Kane Springs Road.

Ron's Blazer.
Ron's Blazer.

Rainbow Ranch.
Rainbow Ranch.

Turning off to the train tunnel.
Turning off to the train tunnel.

We turned right (South East) at the T and drove about 4 miles through lots of cotton wood trees.  Along this drive we passed through what some signs said were Rainbow Canyon.  My mapping software listed this area as Pennsylvania Canyon.  Rainbow Canyon on my maps is about a mile North of Elgin.  Guess the area as a whole might be known as Rainbow Canyon.  That’s a guess on my part.  There was a ranch house with a sign out front that read Rainbow Ranch.  There were some buildings, farm equipment and a dirt bike track.  At the end of the 4 mile drive from the T in the road we reached the destination.  Ron had told his kids we would stop by the train tunnel they had been to before to put coins on the track and let the train flatten them.  The tunnel was large enough for the train track and a side area for trucks to drive through even with the train there.  We drove from one end of the tunnel to the other and parked the trucks just outside the other end.

Ron helping the kids to go to the top of the tunnel.
Ron helping the kids to go to the top of the tunnel.

We got out to check out the entrance of the 1226’ long tunnel.  It had 1911 in the concrete at the top on the left and 1931 in the concrete at the top on the right.  I assume that is the time required to build the tunnel but don’t know for sure what the numbers mean.  Window and I went up the side of the tunnel entrance on the left side.  I had to give Window a push to get up there.  Everyone else went up the right side of the tunnel entrance and we all met at the top.   We walked around at the top and found a large area that seemed to be caving in although there was no apparent damage to the tunnel on the inside.  Ron started making his way back down to the train tracks helping Randy along the way when a train came along.  I took some pictures from the top as the train passed underneath and into the tunnel.  Then I gave Lynne the end of Window’s leash so she would not follow and scurried down to the tracks to get a picture of the train going into the tunnel.  I just made it in time to get a picture of the last car going into the tunnel.  I went back up to get Window and we all made our way back down to the train tracks, hung out for a while then drove back to the other side of the tunnel and parked there.

A view of a train on the tracks with our trucks parked close by.
A view of a train on the tracks with our trucks parked close by.

Last train car dissapearing into the tunnel.
Last train car dissapearing into the tunnel.

I just had to climb it!
I just had to climb it!

Ron and Randy enjoying the tracks.
Ron and Randy enjoying the tracks.

Window, posing by the tunnel.
Window, posing by the tunnel.

Picture of the bridge for the train, taken from the meadow.
Picture of the bridge for the train, taken from the meadow.

Pretty intense laying this close to a moving train.
Pretty intense laying this close to a moving train.

From where we parked it was a few hundred feet to a bridge for the train tacks.  We started walking toward the bridge and the kids placed some coins on the tracks.  We made it across the bridge and very shortly we heard the whistle of another train.  We got off to the side of the track on a steep area of gravel.  When the train came by, Window took off down the gravel away from the noise of the train.  She was trying to get away from that train so hard she was dragging me down the hill with her.  I managed to get her under control and took the leash to Ron so I could lay my head near the train going by to take a picture.  After the train went by we went back across the bridge to gather the squished coins. 

While the kids finished gathering coins the meadow like area on the other side of the tracks from where we parked caught my eye.  I took window down there with me to play around in it.  We got on a huge rock to sit for a few minutes and then headed back to the trucks through some thick green grass.

Window, posing in the meadow.
Window, posing in the meadow.

From the Tunnel area we drove back toward the T in the road.  Just past the T was the Elgin School house and another building next to it.  These looked as though they were still kept up.  Found a reference on the internet to the school house being restored and now open as a museum (see the link above to Elgin Nevada).  I drove over to take a couple pictures of the School House then went back to where Ron and Lynne were looking at the map.  We got onto Highway 317 which dead ends here in Elgin and drove north about 20 miles to Caliente.

Elgin School House.
Elgin School House.

The drive to Caliente was awesomely scenic.  The road winds through a huge canyon and has houses spread out along the way.  There are more than a dozen train tunnels going through the sides of the canyon.  This area would make for some good photography if one wanted to take the time to hang out there.  One house seemed to be on pedestals and was built in 3 sections.  This is an area I would love to have a house in just to hang out there from time to time.

Caliente is a small town.  Not sure of the population but the town is still very much alive, in contrast to Elgin.  Highway 317 ends at Caliente where we got on Highway 93 North bound.  We drove through and noted we would stop here on the way back for some food.  About 6 miles out of Caliente we turned right (South East) onto a road that would take us to Beaver Dam State Park.

House built in 3 sections on pedestals.
House built in 3 sections on pedestals.

A look down one of the main streets in Caliente Nevada.
A look down one of the main streets in Caliente Nevada.

Gage sleeping in my passenger seat.
Gage sleeping in my passenger seat.

A mile or so after turning on the road to Beaver Dam the pavement ends and once again we are on dirt!  Along the way we passed quite a few dirt bike riders.  The area had gotten some rain recently.  The road had large sections that were nothing but mud.  We had some fun in these mud patches.  Ron told me over the CB I might want to consider 4 wheel drive at this point.  I got my self to a solid patch of ground, got out and locked in the hubs.  Wow what a difference!  The road became more and more muddy.  It was a blast getting through this stuff!  Step on the gas and start sliding around.  There were a few times I was traveling almost completely side ways for about 30 or 40 feet.  This was a blast.  I found out later that cleaning it off the underside of my Blazer is not near as much fun. :)

We all stopped to take some pictures of a double rainbow in the distance.  We noticed that you could see the end of the rainbow across the valley.  Then we noticed that you could see the other end of the rain bow near us.  It seemed to be only a few hundred feet away.  I gave Ron my camera and told him to direct me into position where it would look like I was in the end of the rainbow.  I took off running for my destination.  The further I ran the more the rainbow seemed to fade.  This was not surprising since a rainbow is just a reflection so I would have to depend on Ron to direct me since only he would be able to see what the camera could see.  As I ran it started to rain.  I turned to Ron and held my hands up as if to ask which way I should go.  He pointed me in a direction and I took off.  It started raining harder and harder and the rainbow was going away even more.  I turned a second time to Ron and noticed that clouds had moved in front of the sun.  Guess that explains part of the fading rainbow.  At this point it was raining very hard and there was no sun to make a rainbow.  Ron got in my truck and drove up the road toward me and I got in to be driven back to the other trucks.  Talk about bad timing.  I ran off for a picture and came back with no picture and looked like a soaked rat.  We all laughed about it and tried to decide if we should head back or continue to Beaver Damn State Park.  It was getting late but we decided to continue since we were pretty close.

My Blazer with Window inside and a Double Rainbow in the background.
My Blazer with Window inside and a Double Rainbow in the background.

Here I am soaked after running after the rainbow.
Here I am soaked after running after the rainbow.

The last portion of the road toward Beaver was kind of a steep, down hill grade and was very muddy.  When we got to the Beaver Dam Camping area we stopped.  All of us were expressing concern over being able to make it back up the muddy hill.  We all thought we may not make it out.  We stopped to check out some cool rock formations to the side of the road.

While there I had to pee, so off I went to my own little corner to do so.  As I was pissing I turned back to yell to everyone that they had to check out the area I was looking at when I was done.  When I turned back around I noticed Window on the other side of me and thought to my self, “she couldn’t have made it there before I started peeing”.  As I looked at her back I had to laugh.  She had walked under my stream of urine and had a wet stripe almost right down the center of her back.  Not a pleasant sight but very funny.

Our trucks at Beaver Dam State Park.
Our trucks at Beaver Dam State Park.

Cool looking rock formations at Beaver Dam State Park.
Cool looking rock formations at Beaver Dam State Park.

Window, exploring the rock formations.
Window, exploring the rock formations.

We all hiked around the cool rocks for a few minutes then decided to try to make it back up the muddy hill.  We were all surprised we made it with no problems.  The tires did their fair share of spinning, but no one got stuck.  By this time the sun was almost down and it was getting dark.  With it being dark and mud flying all over your windshield it was next to impossible to see the road at times.  Ron had it the worse I think.  Something about his Blazer was just slinging tons of mud all over itself.  After making it out of the muddy roads again we headed back toward Caliente.

In Caliente we stopped to fill up with gas.  While there we used the squeegee to clean our windows.  The next guy to use this squeegee would most likely not be happy with what he found.  The water left in the squeegee bin was like very thin mud.  Then we went next door to the fast food place.  We all ate and decided on the route back home.  It was getting late and I had to work the next morning, so we decided on a route that would get Lynne and I back to Vegas a bit faster.  We would head back down the 317 to Kane Springs Road and stay on that until we reached the 93.  I bought some extra food for window and gave her that along with the leftovers from the kid’s meals.

Ron's Blazer, covered in mud while refueling.
Ron's Blazer, covered in mud while refueling.

Randy (upper left), Luke (me), Ron, Ryan, Gage, and Lynne eating in Caliente.
Randy (upper left), Luke (me), Ron, Ryan, Gage, and Lynne eating in Caliente.

On our way out of Caliente we passed our turn for the 317 and stayed n the 93.  After a few miles we decided to turn around and head back.  The canyon from Caliente to Elgin along the 317 looked almost as nice at night as it did in the day time.  After reaching the 93 we headed south and Ron turned off on the 168 to go home (Logandale).  Lynne stopped a few miles up to look for her cell phone thinking she might have dropped it when we got out to talk at the junction of the 93 and Kane Springs Road.  I pulled over to see what the problem was.  She found it in her truck and we went on back toward Las Vegas.

I got home that night at 11:45pm, unloaded the truck, took a shower and was ready for bed at 12:30am.  Then I remembered I had to set my clock ahead an hour for time change, so it was now 1:30am and I had to be up for work in the morning at 6:30am.  I was going to be tired but it was worth it.  Awesome trip and although the roads were well graded the mud made me feel like I got the Blazer broke in right.