Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Maintaining Balance

December 8-13, 2017
Mojave, California

Happy to get an invite to join this fun-four - Emily, Travis, Kristy and Corey with Bill - before taking off for the desert.
Even without the drama of escaping the Rye Fire, we were in need of a reprieve from the city. Just an hour away is the wide open spaces of the Mojave Desert. 

Our Friday drive is minus the high winds of the last few days, with bright blue, clear skies. I've Google'd the Spaceport RV Park in the little town of Mojave, California, and I know it's "rough". At $20/night with 30 amp FHUs I also know it's perfect for our short sojourn.

The sewer hookup isn't great so we get an occasional "whiff", but everything else works fine in our level dirt site. We're surrounded by seasonals and permanent residents who are all quiet, with less dogs than anywhere we've stayed. There is a small patch of green by the showerhouse so Tessa is happy with our new digs.

Saturday we take Hwy 58 to another small town - Boron. Famous for its borax mine, the main street has three businesses still open and a giant truck on the corner. Later in the week we learn our high school friend worked on this truck numerous times during his years at the mine. 

Boron, California

A real Tonka truck in Boron.

Makes the Jeep look like the toy.

The top of the wheel is taller than the top of my head.

A good year. For firetrucks and people!
My dad always had a large black and white box of Borax cleaner in his garage. The Twenty-Mule Team on the front is a familiar logo to a gazillion households. All those boxes start in this remote desert location. I can still smell the dusty and bitter granules, and feel the grit washing my greasy hands. We miss the little museum this time, but I want to check it out next time.

Although there is little other sign of life here, Christmas carols are playing loudly across the street from where we park, and teenagers are practicing a holiday play or concert on the small outdoor stage by the community center. Love it :-)

We find a power line road and just drive out into the desert. It's why we're here. Wide open spaces with no sound (not even any birds today), and just us. Perfect.

Behind the multi-acre borax mine.

Sadly the Thomas Fire is visible beyond the mountains.

No longer in operation, this military communication building makes an interesting visual.

Decades of time in the desert and I'm still delighted by the amount of color.
I love the balance of soft

and stark.
After our football Sunday, we find more dirt roads for playing on Monday. There are not a lot of "go see" places in this sparse corner of the Mojave, but there are dozens of trails to cross the open desert or explore the canyons below the hills. 

Aqueduct City is 158 acres of subdivided desert. 0.83 acre lots are for sale at $20K with no perks. All the dirt roads look like they have been here for years with no maintenance. This is the corner of Spring Street and Avenue 9 - most intersections have signs.

Even with our renewed love of the desert, this might be a bit too remote for us :-)
Taking a rough two-track, we come upon a developed dirt road with an interesting finned concrete section down the middle. I think it's the California Aqueduct but we find that on a parallel road. Of course there's no signage and Google isn't giving it up either.

A very wide, divided highway.

Miles and miles of concrete fins.
Unlike the open aqueduct I grew up near, this one is completely underground. Repairs must be challenging!

More big views.

We find this little canyon where our trail guide hides to see if we're paying attention.

Jagged canyon walls on one side.

We climb to the top of the other side where we find signs of non-intelligent life.

A holiday sprig decorates the solid canyon wall.
In the otherwise concrete looking surface, Bill finds this single rock

where erosion is making a pool around it. We love finding interesting treasures like this.
Heading into the "desert pin-striping" application section.
I've heard the desert referred to as lifeless and having nothing to offer. Yet nowhere else we've been offers the energy resources of the desert. Without destroying mountainsides or polluting large ecosystems, mass solar and wind power is generated here.

Some have commented that wind turbines kill birds. Blind birds? Stupid birds? They're huge white blades you can see from a mile away - perhaps they're helping with natural selection.

When solar farms are built they include tortoise-proof fences that keep the critters from entering the area. Admittedly the issue with "cooking" birds who fly over acres of heat-producing panels is of real concern as they can't anticipate the danger in advance. I believe a resolution will be found soon. Neither will scar or pollute the planet - especially not for 100's of years like other resources.

One of the best aspects of our lifestyle is the variety of places we get to see - and the ability to spend as much time in each as we want. We called the metropolitan areas of Southern California home for decades. Getting on the road we were anxious to spend our time in less populated areas and in natural settings. Still, we've visited cities across the country that we've also enjoyed. 

After six weeks in Valencia we'd had enough city, were feeling out of balance. How wonderful that we can pull up the jacks and head out to a few days in the desert. 

Having this balance is a gift. Life is good.


  1. It's always nice to have a little variety in our life. Looks like you found a great adventure to give you that variety. And, now on to the next one!

  2. Love the tonka truck! Yes, those tires are HUGE!! You three are adventurers. You certainly bought the right kind of 'toad' for yourselves :-)

    1. Piper is definitely the right toad for us!! Can't imagine not being able to get out in those remote spots :-)))

  3. That first picture is fantastic. Everybody looks like they are having such fun. Amazing to find a subdivision with street signs in the middle of the desert. You do find the most interesting things. “ Signs of unintelligent life” LOL!! That’s a great one. I see different “signs” of the same thing nearly everywhere we are. Love the solar and wind! I just makes me feel we are beyond stupid to have had a ball of energy, the major feature in the sky FOREVER, where we can’t miss it and yet humans put their faces in the “sand” and dig/pump/extract. Let’s not talk about the “life” of nuclear waste we leave our descendants to deal with. On a happier note, your closing graphic is perfect!

    1. That was such a fun evening with the kids! Amen to the big ball of unused energy finally getting in the game :-)

  4. We were only in the city for a few hours yesterday and were so relieved to pull off I10 yesterday and leave the rat race behind!

    1. It's nice to have the amenities close by, but not have to live within the craziness! You're in the perfect spot for balance :-)

  5. Looks like just the place to relax after lots of social time with family and friends. Such fun exploring those Jeep roads alone.

    1. I still can't believe we didn't take advantage of it when we were here "before"!

  6. Love that "Welcome to Boron" sign and the big yellow Tonka truck. I've always had Borax in my natural cleaning supplies cabinet, too. I'm all for wind power and solar power -- but I do hope they can get it figured out so the birds don't suffer. Poor birdies have it hard in this world -- domestic cats and flying into windows take out a couple of million every year. :-(

    1. I saw the most interesting "solution" at the Buffalo Bill Center in Cody, Wy - their large "fly through" windows have strings with feathers and down tied along it every two feet. They explain that birds won't fly into glass where another bird has crashed (leaving behind a "poof" of feathers). Guess that doesn't work on turbine blades :-)))

    2. That's a great idea about hanging strings of feathers on the glass! I've always felt badly about the "poof" of feathers on our enormous glass windows at home -- and decals have never seemed to work. :-(

  7. Thank you so much for stopping there and writing on the Mojave Desert! Seeming this brings back memories of Home!

  8. We have a couple new big solar farms in a town just north of St Paul, Minnesota. I'm happy to see that. And, of course, we have the wind farms along Buffalo Ridge in SW MN. I never figured out how to harvest wind in an RV but having solar power was wonderful!

    1. I've always thought that driving down the road an RV could generate enough power to charge batteries from a small turbine - but of course I haven't researched the reality nor have I seen anyone with one. We really want to get solar!!

  9. I'm laughing at your bird comments, Jodee! How many birds die from pollutants from coal and oil power plants. My guess is a lot more than from solar and wind.

    1. :-))) I'm sure you're right - and so many other critters!

  10. The desert has become our choice of favorite places to hang out too! Having grown up in the south east, it was love at first sight the first time we headed west. What a fun day of exploring! Love your new header photo...Piper looks right at home!

    1. I was sort of sad that when I got her washed, all the pinstriping came off :-(

      Growing up there we couldn't wait to be somewhere else (of course), but now we really love the desert!