Monday, July 11, 2016

Mojave Road Saga - Day 3

One rule J and L stick to, most times, is never to have a cold adult beverage until the day is done. Sitting around discussing the day’s adventure is time to celebrate.

It was no different on the third day upon the Mojave Road, so when Paul and John started seeing gnomes, frogs, toy jeeps, and a plethora of eclectic plastic entities, a question arose: did the boys break with the almost constant golden rule?

They had NOT but the images below will surely make the reader understand why they questioned themselves.

Gnomes going on a trip to the Mojave Road

There's even solar powered 'Ribbet' sounds from some

Even bobble-headed sports figures

The White Rabbit - it explains it all

It seems the game of placing such items near a heavy steel Mojave Road Mailbox at mile 74 has become a fad – a rather large one. It began in 1983 being erected by the Friends of the Mojave Road so visitors could sign a guest book telling others about their trip.

Paul guarding the Mojave Road Mailbox

Proof the boys were there
Fascinating - albeit a bit creepy!

On the road again, as the duo took to the Cimacito summit at 4556 feet above sea level where the view of the desert valley was awesome. Mile upon mile of empty vastness reminded the travelers again of the excitement and danger such a remote road the Mojave is.

Three days and no other vehicle had been seen. Weird and spooky.

Coming across Willow Wash the guide book warned of soft sand at Mile 81.8 and it was more than correct. A steady hand on the wheel, steady touch of foot to pedal, and steadier eyes were needed to navigate the long stretch of sand.

Having driven through deep sand before was no problem, but the length of the wash rather took the fun out of the nearly 6 1/2 miles we had to maneuver. Of course, this was child’s play considering what we came across on a few hours later which was nothing but a white-knuckler. 

The day sped on and so did the miles. Around one in the afternoon the boys decided it was time for lunch. Taking out the ‘easy-up’ and erecting it on Soda Lake at a temperature a little over one hundred degrees seemed the best spot.

Perfect place to relax in triple digits
No wind and the sun baking down on top of the nylon man-made shade made for a wonderful lunch location. Hard boiled eggs, tuna on crackers, water, and a western view of the ancient dry lake bed was all that was needed.

Though – it was hot and getting hotter. Off to Afton Canyon to find a spot to camp.

The Travelers Monument - a collection of rocks in a heap with an American flag was the place was the place to stop. Photos were taken and then back on the road. Not really much to see actually and it was getting hotter by the hour.

Very Patriotic and well worth the stop.
After leaving the monument is when things got a little nerve whacking. 

Railroad bridge just east of the entry to Afton Canyon
Easy sand compared to earlier in the day
At mile 106.8, Casebier states in his book that there is a steep hill at Shaw Pass which then leads into a wash. This may have well said quicksand. 

The sand for the next 10 miles was brutal. Unbelievably soft from the daily barrage of desert winds bringing soft particles to lay upon one another. The wash was not a road - not in anyone's mind. 

No photos were taken since Paul was navigating by searching for the cairns to ensure the FJ stayed it's true course and John was gripping the wheel with all his might. 

The travel was fast but progress was slow. Each bend in the wash brought new challenges - deeper sand and wondering when the next cairn would turn up. 

At one point the boys lost sight of all markers and nearly made a fatal error (remember one vehicle, triple digit temperatures and sketchy cell phone service). Going north along the deep sand John was about to continue in the direction until Paul yelled "left - go left" and there on the edge of an island of river rushes was a cairn. The FJ careened on it's wheels, the steering wheel was yanked left and the tires shuddered to a near stop. But the 200 plus horsepower kept the momentum going. It was actually pretty close to being sunk.
Imaginations can soar like the cliffs here

What happens if a car gets stuck in the sand? With no back-up available a decision has to be made. Walk out of the desert to the nearest settlement over twenty miles away or wait it out - luckily the FJ performed as it always does. It didn't get stuck and we continued to the mouth of Afton Canyon.

Are those parapets with Knights with bows behind them?

A peaceful and gorgeous canyon of high cliffs and wondrous colors.
It had been exhilarating, exhausting, and educational.

The first night in awhile to sleep in a fixed campground. It was a sight for tired eyes - but again - no one else around.

View from Afton Canyon campsite
Now it was time for a cold adult beverage, a cigar and hopefully a good night’s sleep.

The cold drink and cigar proved possible but tons of mosquitoes and a very hot night inside a tent did not allow a good night’s sleep.

Oh well – that’s how many adventures go and to the explorer just another day on the job.

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