With a full tank of fuel from Arizona, off we went, venturing into the land of higher prices – California! Mojave National Preserve was our intended destination. We had visited there a few years ago, and also consulted some past posts from the Bayfield Bunch to refresh memories of the area.
First, we took the Essex road exit off I-40, which leads to the Caverns, as well as Hole in the Wall and Wind campgrounds. For some reason, a sign at the junction indicated that the caverns were closed, but that was not part of the intended plan so we continued up Black Canyon Road. There appeared to be a few adequate boondocking sites off the side of the road prior to the campground, but we continued on looking for better ones. Well that proved to be a mistake! Past the campground there is a lot of private land, cows at large, and industrial strength washboard, as the pavement ends. No good looking camp spots were evident, nor were any decent turn-around spots. I had driven that section of the road in the past, but thought there were some better options. Once you have gone that far over the rough road you start to wonder if you want to turn back or keep on going all the way through. We opted for the latter, and tried the washboard at high speed, catching just the tops of the bumps! Fast or slow, it is hard on the rig and the mind, but at least at high speed the torture does not last as long! After what seemed like an eternity, we emerged out on the Cima road and turned back towards Kelso. Other than right beside the railroad tracks, there is no where to get off that route either, so we continued on all the way to Kelso Dunes where we knew we could camp. Even the first three miles of that road was pretty much free of washboard, so that was a relief. The dunes area seems to be getting more popular as there must have been close to a dozen campers there, but we were not going any further, so just pulled in and spent the night without setting up.
Fortunately, almost all the people departed in the morning, so we found a nice spot all to ourselves and set up to stay for a bit. First day was a bit on the windy and cool side with the higher elevation, but it was still a welcome relief from the noise and traffic in Lake Havasu.
Speaking of Lake Havasu; you know it must be a really, really, really safe place when you observe that there is a fire sprinkler system – in a CAR WASH! You read that correctly. Typical car wash with wet concrete floor, wet cinderblock walls between the bays and a metal roof – no doors. I guess they must have had a problem with cars catching fire while covered in water and soap!
Although I noticed that the sand had cleaned and ‘sanded’ my boot soles like never before.
Back in the lower dunes, there is lots of activity if you watch carefully.
Near camp, a couple of ravens decided to try nesting on a high voltage transmission tower.
They would ignore loose sticks lying on the ground, but rip off small sticks from the lower bushes, before flying up to the tower.
When I had a look under the tower, I could see it was a challenge for them to anchor to the metal of the tower as there were numerous branches that had fallen to the ground.
Guess where we’re off to next?