Tuesday, April 24, 2007

4 of 4: The Old Mojave Road

Last weekend a crew of us went out to drive the Old Mojave Road.

Our fearless leader, walking on water, who I called "meat hooks" because he has the biggest darn hands EVER. They were the size of my head, I'm sure of it.

We followed wagon routes that seemed impossible - but had clearly been used a lot in the 1800's - grinding wagon wheel grooves into the bedrock (one more prominent to the left, and the other just beneath the boot tip on the right).

We also frequently got "the little engine that could" unstuck from places, trying to not let it lose too many bits and pieces (although, in the end it did). Watch it being pushed out of a wash here. And below, how it earned the new name of "the yellow submarine".

At Indian Hill aka Indian Well aka Indian Spring - a big pile of rocks covered in petroglyphs - we set up camp the first night. I found a nice level spot up in the rocks to spend the night while everyone else went down into the wash below. This was great until 3am when I heard a crew of coyotes shrieking (howling) and sounding like they were just on the top of my hill...

We tasted Joshua Tree fruit. I don't recommend it. Licking it, it sort of tasted like cucumber - that's as far as I went (despite tasting it being my idea) - for some reason almost everyone else actually bit into it, and they were all spitting and gagging and trying to find antidotes in the form of trail mix and gum. It was pretty funny. Well, for me anyway.

We explored an amazingly intact mine, that was run from 1914-1926 for limestone and iron, what appears to be a plank road is the remains of the rail line. It went on forever! We were duly impressed by the size and lack of vandalism at it.

Easily one of my favourite spots was Rock Spring - named for obvious reasons - there was an astounding quantity of fresh water here in this little oasis in the deep desert. The scene was surreal. It was, for one year, a military outpost to protect the US Mail!!!

To see more from my trip click here.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Mojave: 3 of 4

Last field trip of the semester... and a perfect sized group for it. Ahhhh, sweet relief!

Jumping for joy in the lava tube (Aiken Mine Rd.) - beneath the stream of sunlight from a cave-in hole above.

In preparation for the last trip to Mojave this month, I finally had the tow hook installed that the previous owners had given me when I bought the Wrongler from them. Now it is known as Snaggletooth.

After many tasted the brine trench with looks of revulsion on their faces, we finally gathered a group for a snowy-looking photo.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Mojave in April: trip 2 of 4

Cadiz Summit on rte 66 (pit stop?)

The camping crew: K-man, G.O. Joe, me, Bird Nerd (Cadiz Summit)

Why limit s'mores to graham crackers?

The campsite while preparing for dinner.

The campsite in the morning.

Rather old SPAM container from Udsogn Mine site.


Bird Nerd collects souveniers from Danby rail site.

I take quick nap on the Mother Road.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Sands Ghost Town Adventure

Welcome to Afton Canyon, known (believe it or not) as the "Grand Canyon of the Mojave". HH and I took a perilous detour through here on our way to find a ghost town. We drove through the Mojave river, which is a joke on maps being as it runs through a gigantic desert... but up close and personal, it gave the Jeep quite a bath and us quite a shock.

After much rumbling on dirt roads, dry river beds, railroad sidings, washes, etc - we eventually made it to Sands:

Sands was once a ranch, from what we can tell, located on the cusp of "Devil's Playground". The only building that still had a significant portion remaining is the barn. Huge timbers were brought in to build this place and of course many parts seemed to be hand-tooled. It was truly awesome to look at this wood and imagine the hard work that someone put into this many many years ago.

What we couldn't figure out was where the ranch house and windmill went. We saw a picture that showed the barn, with metal windmill in background, in a fairly similar state as we saw it. There were no roof remnants when we got there, unlike the picture, and also unlike the picture, there was NO sign of the windmill. Where did it go? The ranch house was even more of a mystery. The only thing that looked like it could have belonged to it is the post below that might have been part of the frame. We thought that maybe the ranch house was torn down for some reason by the rail company. Bizarre. I intend to find out more.

I rather enjoyed the glass that was probably deposited here in the older days... Below, parts of a classic 7up and I think, Royal Crown Cola. (RC label below seems to be circa 1950s according to inter-web... and it seems as though the orange-back 7up label is from the same vintage)