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Open Roads Forum  >  Truck Campers

 > Caliente To Bodfish Road

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NRALIFR

Truck Camping Out West

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Posted: 10/16/10 08:46pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Just returned from a 2-week trip "Out Californee-Way", and had to tell about one of the more memorable, and challenging routes we took.

First of all, I'm the driver. I love to drive. Second of all, she's the navigator, and a pretty good one at that. I do my job, and she does hers. That's the way things are around here, and it's a system that works for us. Mostly.

When we travel, we don't make plans or reservations. We sometimes just leave home with a compass direction in mind, but no real destination. This year our plans consisted of "West" and "Yosemite".

I'll post a good trip report later, but this one segment deserves a topic of it's own.

We came into California on I-40, and when we hit Barstow, we took Hwy-58 toward toward Mojave which takes you around the north side of Edwards AFB. Planing to camp at a State Park or Forestry Service campground, my wife looks ahead on the map and sees that we get close to the Sequoya NF around Caliente. She always has her laptop with her in the truck, and since she has an aircard she starts googling Caliente...... Bodfish....... County Rd 483, stuff like that.

She gets a lot of hits that are mainly discussion forums talking about how wonderful this road is, so she proceeds to lead us there. The road starts out well enough in Caliente, but pretty soon you come to a Y and she says "stay to the left". I say "What? Are you kidding?" The road to the left is immediately going uphill steeply, getting very narrow, and the vegetation along the sides is all overgrown and hanging out into the the road. It was getting close to dusk and starting to rain, too. My first impression was that this road was no longer maintained.

I know these pictures are terrible and I'm sorry about that, but with the rain, lack of light, and the road conditions, these are the best of the terrible.

[image]

I ask her "You're sure this road is paved the whole way, right?" because it looked to me like it was going to turn into a goat-trail at any moment. We continued on up, not that we had any choice. There was barely room most of the way for two vehicles to pass each other, it would have been a challenge to turn around.

I stopped at a turn-out near the top of one hill to get a look over the side.

[image]

Here's the view. That's the road I was on at the bottom of the valley.

[image]

The road is just one switch-back, blind curve, and twisty steep grade after another. It's about 30 miles from Caliente to Bodfish, but most of the way I couldn't make but about 20 mph. When it came time to go down, I was sure glad I had an exhaust brake, too. There are no guard rails on this road, either. A few crosses to mark the spot where someone went over the edge, but that's about it.

Due to our slow pace, there was no way we were going to make it to the campground we were aiming for until well after dark. Not wanting to drive this unfamiliar road in the dark, we found a wide spot off the road near the top that looked like a spot where road materials were stockpiled. There was more than enough room for us, so I pulled in and we "camped" next to the road.

[image]

The next morning, we got up and continued on. We could see last night's intended destination (Lake Isabella) off in the distance as we descended with the road into Bodfish.

[image]

We drive around Lake Isabella, and head up the Kern River Hiway (M-99) after that.

She then says "It didn't look that twisty on the map, I swear! I guess I should have known what kind of road it was though. All the hits I was getting on it were from motorcycle forums".

Beautiful country, though. Surreal beauty.

[emoticon][emoticon]

Matho

New Mexico Texas

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Posted: 10/16/10 10:00pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Looked like the right road to me, just like the kind I end up on. When I look for new places to go on the map it's twice as much time than it reads to get there.

That's the real fun of exploring different roads to nice locations.

I like the view of that last photo.


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maddog348

Bakersfield,CA

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Posted: 10/16/10 10:59pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

BRAVE SOULS !! It is a nasty ~ small ~ crooked road ~~ Glad you made it ok. K





sabconsulting

High Wycombe, UK

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Posted: 10/17/10 03:43am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

It sounds like you have a good team going there, researching and route planning on the fly. Actually that is exactly the sort of road I like to find - quiet, scenic and interesting - while everyone else rushes by on the main highway.

I am also biased being used to the quality(?) of roads we get in Britain - of which that looks fairly typical. Driving around Exmoor national park recently with my little TC the majority of roads were single lane, with only just clearance for the TC, and passing places every 100yds or so designed for 2 compact cars to pass in. Plus 1:3 hills and a ford across a river.

I do envy your rig having an exhaust brake. Older diesels always had good engine braking, but I find that my diesel with its 4 valves per cylinder and very high ratio gearbox (due to Ford trying to get better emission figures) on many downhill sections (even just 1:8) I have to use first gear and ride the brakes all the way down, which I really don't like. I am tempted to try to find a way of overriding the free-wheeling hubs that automatically engage in low-ratio so that I can put the gearbox in low ratio for such work while leaving it in rear wheel drive (Ranger doesn't have centre diff).

Your situation also reminds me of a trip we took around New Zealand in '99 in a class C motorhome. I looked at the guide book and it said a particular road was really scenic following the river. We made a big detour off the main road to take it, turned onto the top of it in the rain and found this:

[image]

It was the width of one vehicle, made of slippery clay and rock and the corners were steeply cambered so if you went too slow you slipped down the camber towards the steep drop into the ravine (no barrier) and too fast you landed in the rock face. It took hours and we were pretty exhausted afterwards. The road was only used by people going to and from a Mauri village half way down and the ravine was littered with empty beer cans (clearly consumed by drivers on the way down) and wrecked cars (clearly the result of consuming said beer).

Afterwards we looked at the map the rental company gave us - that road was one of only 2 in the country we were not permitted to drive in their vehicle (we also ended up driving the other one too)!

Steve.


'07 Ford Ranger XLT Supercab diesel + '91 Shadow Cruiser - Sky Cruiser 1
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GoinThisAway

middle TN

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Posted: 10/17/10 06:39am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Looks like a very nice road to travel if one had good weather, enough daylight for the trip, and lots of time to take it easy. Unfortunately you had none of these working for you [emoticon] At least you were rewarded with a spectacular view the next morning [emoticon]


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NRALIFR

Truck Camping Out West

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Posted: 10/17/10 08:57am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

silversand wrote:

OK, NRA: ...I'm not seein' any photos in your original Post?

Silver-


Hmmm... Not sure what's up with that.

Here's a link to my Photobucket Album if that helps.

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NRALIFR

Truck Camping Out West

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Posted: 10/17/10 08:15am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

GoinThisAway wrote:

Looks like a very nice road to travel if one had good weather, enough daylight for the trip, and lots of time to take it easy. Unfortunately you had none of these working for you [emoticon] At least you were rewarded with a spectacular view the next morning [emoticon]


It was a nice scenic road, and once I confirmed that it was indeed paved, I was OK with it. As far as I'm concerned, if paving equipment can go there, so can I. Even some paved roads can present "technical challenges" though. It's the potential combination of steep grades, unpaved roads and rain that give me pause. My truck is not 4x4, and even if it were, the size of my camper would prevent any serious off-roading.

Actually, the views weren't too shabby most of the way up, I just couldn't do them justice because of the conditions.

I would take the road again, if the occasion arose. I wouldn't want to drag a very long trailer up that road, though.

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silversand

Montreal

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Posted: 10/17/10 08:30am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

OK, NRA: ...I'm not seein' any photos in your original Post?

Silver-


Silver
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Tiger4x4RV

Inland Empire, Southern California

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Posted: 10/17/10 12:56pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I love that area, have done several trips there, about a week each. The roads seem daunting at first, but usually turn out OK. Sadly, there have been several very bad fires in that region in the last few years. Caliente/Bodfish road, Breckenridge, the Greenhorns, the Western Divide, Portuguese Pass.

Here are more photos for those interested:

http://public.fotki.com/kvsmith/june-2007-southern-/


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kohldad

Goose Creek, SC

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Posted: 10/18/10 07:01am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Quote:

All the hits I was getting on it were from motorcycle forums


LOL

I've been on numerous roads like that - sometimes with my 5th wheel and the reason I upgraded to my TC. Glad you stopped for the night so you could enjoy the views and the rest of the road.


2015 Ram 3500 4x4 Crew Cab SRW 6.4 Hemi LB 3.73 (12.4 hand calc avg mpg after 92,000 miles with camper)
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