Monday, January 7, 2013

Rice, CA

Wow, talk about posting about nothing... if you type "Rice, CA" into Google maps, you will see Rice is truly in the middle of nowhere... roughly the halfway point between Joshua Tree and the Colorado River, it used to be a town, or more accurately, a gas station. Now it's nothing... just a couple cement slabs, a railroad track, and a skeleton of the old gas station. Some entrepreneur has taken the opportunity to climb up and post a sign that says "Fresh Jerky 36 Miles". I never did see any fresh jerky. There are also a few pair of hanging shoes, which for some reason is popular in the desert.
F/14, 1/60sec, ISO 200, 16mm wide angle
Here's an iPhone shot of the same thing... I really like the Instamatic feel, like a photo you might find that a family member took 40 years ago.

Rice, CA... not much here except huge open vistas and roads that go on forever!

But wait, there's more to Rice than meets the eye. Heading due south there's a sandy road that looks like it goes for miles and is well traveled. When I explored it on Google maps, it leads to a ghost town!! Perfect for a Jeep trip. The name of the town is Midland, and it was a company town owned by the U.S. Gypsum Company, manufacturer of gypsum sheetrock. The town existed from the 1920's to the 1960's and had about 1000 people living there! Isn't that amazing??! Here's a great website developed by a lady who grew up in Midland: Check out the section on Midland Through My Father's Camera Lens. Really interesting. Below is a shot from the internet of what it used to look like, including the school and baseball field!

Not much left of Midland today, mostly slabs and some old mines, but I also learned that Midland is a boondocking location. What's boondocking? Also called dry camping or coyote camping, it's isolated BLM land where people park their trailers or RVs to spend extended periods of time for free (or a small BLM permit fee). Isn't that amazing?? If you're interested, check out this web site... it lists boondocking locations in S CA and AZ (also referred to as Long Term Visitor Areas, LTVAs): So keep your eye out for a future post from Midland, CA. Hoping to make the trip with my sister and her husband over at Lap Dog Knits and their very cool little trailer and red Jeep!
Dedicated to Huell Howser, who loved the offbeat and unusual corners of California!


  1. great photos and interesting reading....
    as long as the lil loafer and her 12" tires can find somewhere flat we can enjoy a bit of dry camping ..... this looks perfect

  2. Rice and Midland both sound like places that had an interesting past. I admit that I have never heard of boondocking. I hope you will soon have a post from Midland.

  3. That was a very nice touch, the dedication to Huell. What a really neat guy he was and I still cannot believe he is gone.

  4. Hi there - nice post - I like the image of the canoe - one of my favourite ways to travel!

    Stewart M - Australia

  5. Very interesting post! And, yes, Joshua Tree national park got snow Sunday night. Hubby and I went there yesterday and I posted a few pics on my blog. It was magical! BUT COLD! Bundle up...there were wind gusts of 60 mph out on Keys Point!

  6. Fascinating! Great post, I love the iPhone Fresh Jerky sign image!

  7. Great pictures...I like the one of the road!

  8. I've always wanted to visit an abandoned town. Great job on the photos; I especially loved the side of the graffitied train and the bright red canoe.

  9. Hi Peter I love your header photo, and we are planning for another RTE 66 trip, my third time around.

    I miss Huell Howser, I get most of my travel tips from him. That's the tufa reserve right?

    Hope someday we will cross our paths!