Friday, January 26, 2018

The Mojave National Preserve

  Earlier this week I wrote about the lava tubes in Mojave National Park. The tube was the highlight of our day in the preserve but there is a lot more to see in the preserve.
 The preserve contains 1.6 million acres of California desert. That is a lot of area. You definitely need more than a day to explore it and unfortunately we only gave it a day. We took I-40 from Barstow until the exit for Kelbaker Road. This would be the road that eventually would end in Baker but not until after we stopped at a few spots first.
The Kelso Dunes
 Our first stop was the entry sign, of course, so that we could take the stereotypical tourist photo. Looking west from the sign is the Granite Mountains which were created from volcanic activity that took place between 80 and 180 million years ago. I would like to have explored these interesting looking rock formations more, but in the interest of time, we kept moved on to the Kelso dunes.
 The Kelso dunes are 45 square miles of sand. The tallest dune is about 650 feet tall. Now, we've been to sand dunes before. The Little Sahara recreation in Utah is one of our many playgrounds that we take our ATV's to. The Kelso dunes are special, though. These dunes sing. The singing sand, also known as "booming dunes" make a low frequency grumble when the sand is disturbed. For example, sliding down the face. This phenomenon has only been noted at a few other locations on Earth. I wanted to experience this for myself, but, it was not to be. The hike to the top of the dunes is a lengthy one and the howling winds, sprinkling rain, and forty degree temperatures didn't seem like a force we wanted to face with two of our group having a cold and me getting over one. Perhaps another time.
 Around the mid-point of Kelbaker road is an old Union Pacific Railroad station. The Spanish style train depot opened in 1924 and closed in 1985. Through research I learned that Kelso station had a  restaurant, billiard room, baggage area, library, telegraph office and much more. I had to learn this through research because the day we visited just happened to be the first day of the government shutdown. Yup, doors locked up tight, lights off, have a nice day. I get it. It just ticks me off. Stupid government can't get along so we all have to suffer. Pish, posh. Such as life. I suppose there may a time when I can slide back over to the depot but with the time we have left here in California, I'm not sure when that will be.
 From Kelso station we headed over to the lava tube which I wrote about earlier this week. If you want to catch up on that experience, check it out here. We followed the Kelbaker road until it ended in Baker where we jumped back on I-15 and headed back to Barstow. In Barstow there is a little diner that is kinda famous. Or at least it wants me to believe that it's famous. Peggy Sue's 50's Diner. It's a little greasy spoon with an eclectic style. With a 50's theme and plenty of movie memorabilia to keep you entertained for hours, we wondered why we never stopped in before. 
 On this trip we only got to explore the western third of the preserve. There is still a lot more ground to cover that I hope to visit some day. In fact, he Mojave Road cuts right through the entire preserve. The Mojave Road is known today as one of the must do overland routes in the United States and takes approximately three days to traverse. That would be a blast and will remain on my bucket list.
 The Mojave Preserve has been a pretty well kept secret from me. If not for a random internet search I may have continued to drive by this gem, completely oblivious to its existence. I would encourage anyone to take the time to explore this area and the best part is, there is no entry fee. Just don't forget to take plenty of water with you.

Brandan 


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