ROADTRIP SOUTHWEST






DESERT EXPLORATION LEG 12:
DEATH VALLEY — DAY 1

by JoMarie Fecci


DEATH VALLEY, CA — The night had not been too cold and I woke up full of energy and excitement for the day ahead. I had heard the coyotes’ song last night. Their howling sounded close and I thought maybe I would see one today. Once before I saw coyotes in Death Valley–in fact it was the only time I have ever seen them close enough and long enough to make a few photos. Every other time I have ever seen one it was too far away or running across the road and disappearing into the brush. I thought it might be a good plan to look for them today. Death Valley is huge and looking for coyotes would let me focus my energy on one area of the park — preferably one that was not too crowded. Though it seemed like that would be a difficult feat considering the fact that everything seemed “full”…. [read more]






DESERT EXPLORATION LEG 11:
TONOPAH TO DEATH VALLEY

by JoMarie Fecci


DEATH VALLEY, CA — After yesterday’s storm the skies had completely cleared and looking outside from my hotel this morning, it looked like a nice day. The sun was out shining bright as if nothing had happened. Maybe the snow on the Joshua trees had just been a crazy dream. But as soon as I stepped out I felt the freezing wind on my face again and knew it was winter. Too cold for a leisurely walk down Tonopah’s main street, I bundled myself and my bags back into the Jeep and headed south, back towards Beatty and Death Valley beyond…. [read more]






DESERT EXPLORATION LEG 10:
VALLEY OF FIRE TO TONOPAH

by JoMarie Fecci


TONOPAH, NV — Another chilly night in the Valley of Fire, and an early wakeup in time to catch the sunrise. I took the time to watch the ageless transition from night to day in this magical landscape. The skies were pretty spectacular as the sun came up from behind the rocks just below a layer of clouds that seemed to truly form a “ceiling.” But the coming of daylight didn’t warm things up much. That heavy low cloud layer that had made the morning color so interesting now obscured the sun completely and the Jeep’s map screen kept lighting up with weather warnings for another big storm headed this way. The warnings covered the whole southwest all the way from Los Angeles to the Las Vegas area and specified the likelihood of snow in this region. I needed to make a decision…. [read more]






DESERT EXPLORATION LEG 9:
VALLEY OF FIRE – DAY 2

by JoMarie Fecci


VALLEY OF FIRE, NV — It got very cold during the night, and the Mr. Buddy Heater ran out of “gas” halfway through, so when I woke up around first light and got out of my winter sleeping bag, I was “freezing.” As I exited my tent I noticed that someone had left their Christmas lights on at their campsite, and they were sparkling against the dark blue skies of first light…. [read more]






DESERT EXPLORATION LEG 8:
VALLEY OF FIRE – DAY 1

by JoMarie Fecci


VALLEY OF FIRE, NV — Got the tent set up and established my campsite as the sun struggled to come out from behind the clouds. Mostly the struggle was unsuccessful, but at least it was dry, and that made a big difference while putting up the big tent. I decided to use the larger tent as I will be here for a few days and want to make it as comfortable as possible — especially with the prospect of rain, where it is nice to have a tent tall enough to stand up in and walk around and do stuff while inside… [read more]






CROSS-COUNTRY LEG 7:
UT to NV

by JoMarie Fecci


RICHFIELD, UT to VALLEY OF FIRE, NV — Up at first light this morning and anxious about the weather conditions despite the fact that there was not any precipitation happening in Richfield. All the “Winter Storm Warning” and “Winter Storm Advisory” notices I was getting made me worry about what could happen on the road ahead, or more importantly at my destination — The Valley of Fire, where I was planning to camp for the next few days. I looked at weather radar and forecasts, and ever the optimist, decided to go ahead with my plan counting on a weather forecast for Valley of Fire that said rain would stop by 2pm…. [read more]






CROSS-COUNTRY LEG 6:
CO to UT

by JoMarie Fecci


GOLDEN, CO to RICHFIELD, UT — Crossing the Rocky Mountains via the I-70 mountain pass was visually quite stunning, and it turned out that all my worries were for nothing, as the weather held up despite overcast and threatening skies. However, there are some serious storm warnings ahead… [read more]






CROSS-COUNTRY LEG 5:
NE to CO

by JoMarie Fecci


YORK, NE to GOLDEN, CO — Leaving the flatlands of the Great Plains and approaching the Rocky Mountains as things start to get a bit more “wintery.” Though so far the forecast is holding up for a decent weather day for the mountain crossing tomorrow…. [read more]






CROSS-COUNTRY LEG 4:
IL to NE

by JoMarie Fecci


PERU, IL to YORK, NE — Winter Solstice and I am about halfway across the U.S. in my journey so far. Today is the first day that I have the whole day to drive, and so I started off with a short hike at Starved Rock State Park in Illinois where I wanted to check out some canyons, a very unusual type of terrain for this part of the country… [read more]






CROSS-COUNTRY LEG 3:
IN to IL

by JoMarie Fecci


ANGOLA, IN to PERU, IL — I love the fact that I drove from “Angola” to “Peru” today! And though it was quite a lot of driving it was not exactly from Africa to South America — rather Angola, Indiana to Peru, Illinois. Still, a drive across two states and into a new timezone is quite a journey… [read more]






CROSS-COUNTRY LEG 2:
PA to OH to IN

by JoMarie Fecci


DUBOIS, PA to ANGOLA, IN — Drove across three states today, making it through the last bit of Pennsylvania, all the way across Ohio, and into Indiana. Winter was a bit kinder weather-wise, even if it was still extremely cold, and thankfully there were no more storms… [read more]






CROSS-COUNTRY LEG 1:
NJ to PA JEEP UPGRADES

by JoMarie Fecci


CLINTON, NJ to DUBOIS, PA — A special day for the Jeep today, getting an early Christmas present in the form of some upgrades before heading off across the very long state of Pennsylvania in the evening tp begin the first major leg of the journey westward. And, yes, Pennsylvania really is a long state… [read more]






CROSS-COUNTRY DEPART: NY TO NJ

by JoMarie Fecci


NESCONSET, NY to CLINTON, NJ — The journey begins! Hit the road after finishing my workday for a first short leg to the New Jersey – Pennsylvania border not far from where the Jeep will get her first upgrades tomorrow… [read more]





GETTING READY FOR DEPARTURE

by JoMarie Fecci


NESCONSET, NY — Excited to be getting ready for the first major roadtrip with the new Jeep. The goal is to use the holiday roadtrip to get out west and reconnect with the desert. Or rather deserts, plural. There are actually four distinct deserts that meet in the southwest of the United States. I won’t be visiting all of them during this journey, but I will be hitting three of the four over the next several weeks. And the starting point for this journey is actually New York … [read more]



ABOUT THE EXPEDITION


JoMarie Fecci, of USnomads, sets off on the first holiday roadtrip with the new Jeep, overlanding from New York to the deserts of the southwest. Once out in the desert, it will be time for some scouting and pre-running in preparation for an upcoming adventure. The primary goal of this journey is to get the Jeep pre-positioned in the west, and to assess terrain, logistical concerns and approximate timeframes for future travel.


WHERE WE ARE


There are four deserts that connect across the southwest of the United States — the Great Basin, Mojave, Sonoran and Chihuahuan. The Great Basin Desert is “high desert” which can get cold and see much snow in winter. This desert covers southeast Oregon, a small portion of northeast California, most of west Utah, part of southeast Idaho, and the majority of Nevada – all except the southernmost 150 miles which are within the Mojave Desert. All this land is characterized by long, thin, parallel mountain ridges running north-south, separated by wider valleys, often containing dry lake beds (playas) or salt basins. The few rivers run inwards, with no outlet to the ocean; their waters ultimately either sink below ground or evaporate. The Mojave Desert covers the southernmost 150 miles of Nevada, a tiny area of southwest Utah, lower elevation regions of northwest Arizona (bordering the Colorado River) and most of southeast California. The topography is generally similar to the Great Basin, with isolated mountains and wide, flat plains, but temperatures are hotter, vegetation sparser, and the hills are less numerous. The Sonoran Desert of southwest Arizona and the south-eastern tip of California has perhaps the most archetypal desert scenery in the Southwest, with vast flat plains and abundant cacti, especially the giant saguaro, which occurs most densely in Arizona towards the higher elevation reaches of the desert, between 1,500 and 3,500 feet. The Sonoran desert continues a long way south into Mexico, nearly 500 miles down the east side of the Gulf of California. The Chihuahuan Desert is the second largest in the US, and also extends a long way into Mexico. It covers the southern third of New Mexico, excluding several mountain ranges, and all of far west Texas, west of a line between Del Rio and Monahans. Elevations are generally higher than in the Sonoran Desert (2,000 to 6,000 feet), and precipitation is a little greater, with most rain falling during the summer thunderstorm season. Cacti are still quite numerous but are generally smaller than to the west; instead, the dominant plants are yucca and agave, though even so, as with many other desert regions, large areas have only the ubiquitous creosote bushes and mesquite trees. For more information and a list of interesting places to visit in each desert see the American Southwest website.


THE COMPLETE JOURNEY

Getting Ready for Departure
Cross-Country Depart: NY to NJ
Cross-Country Leg1: NJ to PA
Cross-Country Leg2: PA to IN
Cross-Country Leg3: IN to IL
Cross-Country Leg4: IL to NE
Cross-Country Leg5: NE to CO
Cross-Country Leg6: CO to UT
Cross-Country Leg7: UT to NV
Desert Leg8: Valley of Fire-Day1
Desert Leg9: Valley of Fire-Day2
Desert Leg10: Valley of Fire to Tonopah
Desert Leg11: Tonopah to Death Valley
Desert Leg12: Death Valley-Day1


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