INTO THE MOJAVE
Our tradition of a desert adventure to kick off the new year was hindered by a bout of flu. This was followed by a wide array of conflicting schedules, and work related issues.
Yesterday, in spite of the fact the deadline is fast approaching for completion of the new book and the editor is requesting a few adjustments, and the appointment with our tax accountant is looming large on the calendar, the weather was just to perfect to be chained to a desk and so I played hooky in a grand way. With the fact that a few California pictures were needed for the new book as the excuse, my dearest friend and I set out into the depths of the M0jave Desert to make up for our missed New Years day adventure.
|On the California side of the Colorado River at the span of
the National Old Trails Bridge built in 1916.
Shortly before sunrise, as my dear friend packed a most delightful lunch of fresh baked pumpkin muffins, sandwiches, and other treats, I loaded the steadfast old Jeep as though we were headed on safari. Long ago I learned the importance of having more than enough when setting out into the back country of the desert and so rope, a shovel, heavy jack, tools, first aid kit, gallons of water, snake bite kit, and a wide array of assorted items were stowed on board.
When we rolled from the driveway dawn was breaking and by the time we hit the Colorado River where the National Trails Highway Bridge spans the Colorado River, the sun was clearing the distant peaks. Next we explored the empty streets of Needles, grabbed a cup of coffee at Denny’s, and as we were setting out into the desert, I sucked it up and filled the tank even though the price was $4.40 per gallon (I had paid $3.09 in Kingman).
Our secondary destination was the Mojave National Preserve, about sixteen miles north of Amboy. A veritable wonderland of stunning landscapes, desert oasis and historic sites, the preserve is absolute paradise for those who are hopelessly in love with the raw and stark beauty of the desert.
In my new book I am including little treasures found with but the slightest of detours from Route 66, places like Hualapai Mountain Park twelve miles south of Kingman. From its inception the goal was to keep the detours short, less than twenty miles.
However, I would be quite remiss if Kelso was not included even though it is almost forty miles north of Amboy. A desert oasis in the truest sense of the word, the crown jewel of this former railroad boom town in the wilderness is the old Kelso Depot.
Fully refurbished, the depot now houses a wonderful book store, a museum preserving the areas rich and colorful history, and the Beanery, a time capsule lunch room. As the temperatures were a near perfect seventy degrees, we opted for the picnic tables.
However, as Kelso is only 120 miles from home via Searchlight and Nipton, rest assured we will be making the drive someday just to have lunch here. Of course, that trip will most likely not be made during the months of summer when the temperatures in the preserve often top 110 degrees.
Counted among the overlooked treasures in the desert is the old Mojave Road that originally connected the Colorado River crossing at Fort Mojave with the trails that coursed over the Cajon Pass. The road was first mapped during the expedition of Father Garces in 1776 as he followed a Native American trade route across the desert.
My intent is to follow the entire course at some point in the future. However, as we had but one day, and as the more than 150 mile drive across the desert can be an extreme four wheel drive adventure west of Goffs, it seemed best to save this adventure for a time when we could include camping under the desert sky.
For the return trip, we set a course for north across the desert, then through the historic old town of Nipton, and across the Colorado River at Laughlin. What a grand adventure!
Now its time to get back to the grind. However, with thoughts of the Kelso station Beanery and a 4×4 adventure along the Mojave Road in my head, I am quite sure the work day will be much more endurable.