2021 Great Basin Desert Expedition

LabRat

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Well gang,

Here we go.

I couldn’t wait any longer. Two years of planning and months of preparation.
I blew off work Friday with some PTO to get on the road early.

Complete coincidence is the mileage when I filled up the first time at home.
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Leg one: Omaha, NE to Grand Mesa National Forest, CO

Never again! I76 into Denver basically requires off road tires. Denver traffic insane. Bert preformed beautifully but tragic was at a standstill west of Denver on I70. Bypassed to Central City just to **** time for an hour. Finally got through on 79 but lost five hours drive time to the traffic.

no way to make GMNF and find a dispersed camp site, so used hipcamp and spent the night on a ranch north of Rifle, CO. They had tiger salamander larvae in their pond!!!
 

LabRat

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Next leg to Delta, UT for dinner at the Rancher, then off to Fossil Mountain to set base camp.

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LabRat

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Base camp set at Fossil Mountain

Had some fun on the way in as there had been a recent flash flood that tore up about a 1/2 mile of road. Never would have made it in a 2WD rental!

Had the entire location to myself. Absolute silence.
 

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LabRat

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Had a great night. Was a bit of a challenge getting in, but woke up and went collecting. Logged 46 plants, 8 reptiles, and a ton of bugs. Wasn’t much for fossils, as I have been here before, but still had fun.
 

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LabRat

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Wish I could say I’m an expert at reading desert weather, but reality is I got bored, so I decided to move base camp to Crystal Peak. More challenging driving, but Bert had no problems…till the steering got stiff and squeaky…

Discovered the boot on the steering shaft u joint was basically gone. Cleaned it with Kroil and Ethanol, lubricated with Endura, then wrapped it up with some sheet silicone and bailing wire. Problem solved for now.

Good thing too, as I can see a massive thunderstorm to the south and it’s headed my way!

Got to Crystal Peak and reset camp. Wind has really kicked up and it’s very sandy here. High ground and some wind protection from a Juniper grove!
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LabRat

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Worked out well as this is a superior camp site, I’ve never been here. Watched four back to back monsoon thunderstorms hammer Fossil Mountain and King Top with lightning.

Downside is I got up this morning and went to check what passes for a road. Flash flood took out the way I came in, and more rain is coming.

What a shame…I’ll have to stay here a few days and explore while things firm up a bit. Lots of big rocks in that mud. However looks like other route out is high and dry, so can still bail out if need be.

At least I got in network cellular here too. Can do some paperwork and watch a movie till the weather clears up.

been using the ZOLEO satellite coms in most spots so far. Best 200$ I’ve spent as cb and grms ham are useless here- is no one else around!

Enjoyed some BBC on shortwave last night. Read online there’s an awesome but mild Jeep trail near here…may have to try that out soon…
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LabRat

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Currently at the Border Inn on US 50. Fuel, wiper fluid, and whiskey. Wait out another monsoon, then back into Millard County. I’ll be back here next week on my way to Great Basin NP.
 

JRB

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I enjoyed the build, it's nice to see the follow up photos of it in use!
 

profdlp

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Looks like a great time. I took PTO yesterday myself, got my annual physical and also dropped by the dentist for a crown which took nearly three hours. I think you win this round. :D
 

duderz7

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I once got a filling at the dentist then to the **** surgeon for an especially deep root canal on another tooth, then back to the dentist for an impression for the crown to cover the root canal. Total of 9 hours in the combination of chairs in one day. Only bright side is dentist is next door to home. Good times.
 

LabRat

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Looks like a great time. I took PTO yesterday myself, got my annual physical and also dropped by the dentist for a crown which took nearly three hours. I think you win this round. :D
Had all my teeth pulled years ago. Best thing The VA ever did for me.
 

LabRat

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So much to share! Been off the grid for a few days. Battled flash floods, monsoon rain, and lots of fun terrain. After fuel and a token a whiskey at the Border Inn, I headed back into the desert.

on a whim I jumped of 6/50 towards Eksdale and headed east. Via the power line access road and the Conger Mountain OHV trails, I made my way to one of my favorite places on earth: Cowboy Pass.

The trail riding was epic, and with careful driving I didn’t regret not putting the lift in yet…
…and then Bert and I came across a mall rated Wrangler…clipped a rock and sheared off a bunch of lugs…

Funny thing, they stopped laughing at my Liberty when I produced both studs and spare lug nuts…and a real Jack and Jack stands…

They tried to give me cash, I refused…but they had steaks and airplane bottles of whiskey. I ate good that night!

The next morning I got to it. 5 mile hike with 30lbs of science gear on my back, but found the “mythical” motherlode of ammonite fossils…not to mention tons of biological data and soil samples.
 

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LabRat

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Sorry for sideways pictures. I have limited time and bandwidth at the moment!

next day I drove deep into one of the mountain ranges to Sinbad Overlook.

I’ll let the photos tell the story of this 8000ft view of the West Desert. The driving was EPIC!

Also , while I hate selfies- I couldn’t resist the “Saint of Solitude” shot…
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lfhoward

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Thanks for documenting your science adventures both in narrative and pics! I’m enjoying reading your installments. That’s a great looking rattlesnake, too.
 
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LabRat

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From there I heade just 6 miles away to the “secret” public trilobite beds. It was a three hour drive…rugged as hades,but Bert the ScienceMobile didn’t even break a sweat. Lots of shredded tires and bent wheels dumped along the Amasa Basin trails…more on that later…

Hit the jackpot on trilobites AND found the only artesian well still with water during the crazy drought. Also helped out a very nice but very stupid young couple trying to overland the area in a van. After plugging both rear tires and their spare, I told them they need to get back to civilization and stay there. They started to argue, but then listened to reason when I explained buzzards and coyotes won’t Instagram their failure, but will be more than happy to scatter their bones after they complained about no self service.
Wouldn’t be surprised to read their corpses were found scattered in the future.
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LabRat

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I went back west to Great Basin National Park the next day. I needed a break. No science. Just a hike to see Bristlecone Pines.

Then about an hour after I set base camp on Snake Creek, a series of severe monsoon storms rolled in. The tourists were running for cover. I read a Jack Reacher novel under the roadhouse tarp and took an excellent all natural shower.

The next morning I found a flash flood took out the road…so I busted out the shovel and pick and started filling in the meter wide trench. Park Service showed up about a half hour later and finished the job while I made coffee and ground bison chilaquilles for them. Poor dudes been repairing roads all night. Got some free stickers for Berts swing gate!
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LabRat

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Currently at Ely, NV to do laundry and have a real meal. Still have a week before I have to head back to Omaha. I’ll check back with more fun in a few days!
 

LabRat

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So remember all those shredded tires and bent wheels I mentioned? Collected all of them. Bert was so overloaded the tires rubbed on some bumps. Got 138$ for all that trash at the salvage yard/recyclers outside of white pine. Got another 50$ For all the dang beer cans worthless, mouthbreathing, suburban Instagram mothra frakkers leave behind.

im now at a great little pub having cold beer and letting Bert cool down to re-l.u.b.e the exposed steering u joint. Thank Cthulhu for Kroil and Endura.

seriously what are people such tyrds and why does the profanity filter flag l.ub.e on an automotive forum? That’s like censoring “b.on.e” on a fossil forum.
 
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