To see as much of the world as we can,
Using the smallest carbon footprint we can,
Spending the least amount of money we can,
Making as many friends we can.

Team Red Cruising

Cross-Country Tour, Week 10, Mojave


Vegas was family time. Not too many interesting sights to see.

El Paso de Robles was time with friends. Plus some wine tasting. And a little Christmas Concert in the park.

Paso Robles Christmas Concert
Paso Robles Christmas Concert

From there, we went south to the Mojave.

Important Back-Story: Desert Oracle.

And this, also: Desert Oracle Radio.

CA bought the Desert Oracle, Volume 1 book for me a few years back. The stories are insane. Amazing. Weird.

The Podcast lives up to the book. Perhaps even more weird because Ken Layne really likes the idea of the lonely desert highway where the broadcast story from a random radio station fills your night with something unique and strange.

Ken Layne is not afraid of dead air. I sometimes wonder what's going on, and that's just fine by me. There's a level of "Really good, but not very slick" to his production. It's kind of gritty, like a walk in the high desert.

Desert Oracle stories take place in and around the Great Mojave Wilderness. "From Amboy to Zzyzx," as he says.

I devoured the book. We're catching up on the podcast. We listen on the long drives: hours of Desert Oracle episodes end-to-end. Our days are punctuated by the coyote howls that define the breaks in each episode.

In order to actually come to grips with the Desert Oracle, I wanted to see the Mojave and Joshua Tree National Park for myself.

I was not dissapointed.

I now know what (and where) Morongo Canyon is, for example.

The idea of route 62 and "Downtown Joshua Tree" make a lot more sense to me.

The Mojave

Here are some of the things we've seen.

The Salton Sea

First stop? Birding in the Largest Environmental Disaster in California's History: The Salton Sea.

Salton Sea
Salton Sea

Over the last 1,300 years, the Salton Sea tended to fill and drain due to the natural structure of the Colorodo River delta. For sensibly mobile people, they could follow the shoreline's movements, and have great fish camps. Maybe go up into the desert for rabbit. Maybe harvest cattails for the roots.

Since 1905, however, it's been a right awful mess.


It's the lowest spot. Water can't drain from here. I was 230 feet below sea level. It can only evaporate.

Below Sea Level
Below Sea Level

Quail Springs

Next Stop? Drive around the official road through the JT wilderness.

Quail Springs.

Joshua Tree National Park
Joshua Tree National Park

I watched the rock climbers for waaay too long.

After we left, I checked the Desert Oracle book. There's a chapter on Samuleson's Stones. Which also includes the author of Perry Mason, Erle Stanley Gardner.

See Samuelson's Rocks

We need to return to explore this weirdness further.

Near Hidden Valley

Here's a climber on Hemingway Buttress. I'm pretty sure we're near the Hidden Valley campground. But I'm not totally sure. (Apple's Photo app is reluctant to provide the GPS coordinates and I hate to resort to wrestling with the HEIC file.)

Hemingway Buttress
Hemingway Buttress

Cactus Garden

The Cholla Cactus Garden is a spot where the cholla grow. Mostly here. Not only here. But. Mostly here.

Quite amazing that they really, really like this location.

Cholla Cactus Garden
Cholla Cactus Garden

Cottonwood Springs

Final Stop before hitting the Ace Hotel and Swim Club?

Cottonwood Springs. This is a little geological anomaly.

It appears that some ground-water is captured by the faults and there's a spring here. Sometimes.

Othertimes, it's merely damp-ish. Which is fine for trees.

Local folks would harvest the mesquite seeds and pound them into flour. The old mortars are still there. Deep holes suggest that women had been making food here for centuries.

Cottonwood Springs
Cottonwood Springs

Ace Hotel

Mid-century diner refurbished to be exquisite.

And packed.

Reservations absoutely required.

Quail Springs, Part 2

Since we missed the Samuelson Stones yesterday, we came back for more. We went Quail Springs.

We hiked down the Quail Wash at least 2½ miles.

We saw a lot of this.

Joshua Tree
Joshua Tree

We never -- quite -- found the Samuleson Rocks.

After we got back, I checked the internet. And. Of course. The location is pretty well-known. Had I taken the time to download a topographic map into my phone, I would have had no trouble.

As it was, we came up empty-handed.

But we saw a lot of desert. Which was glorious.

Tomorrow? Laundry. Oil Change. Grocery Shopping. Maybe a Winter Solstice fancy supper at a restaurant.