A two-day break in 29 Palms was very welcome. We checked oil and tyre pressure, filled the tank, caught up with laundry and generally relaxed.
Saturday, we made an early start. There’s not really a ‘start’ to the Mojave, you just kind of leave town on the old Route 66 road for abou 49 miles turn left and you are in the Mojave Desert. Friend, Homer, had told us, ‘it’s not a pretty desert’ He Is right; it is fairly monotonous unlike Death Valley which is hugely varied and dramatic. But it is also much cooler than Death Valley. The Mojave is classified by its altitude (over 3,000feet) and the vegetation – primarily yukka.
The start of the Mojave Desert
At the end of old R66, we came to Amboy which consists of a gas station, a motel and a post office where we were able to mail 2 winning lottery tickets to Homer’s sister; they had been bought in Arizona and that is the State they have to be cashed in so we posted the prizes totalling $9 from, surely, one of the remotest PO in the USA.
We filled up, had a coffee and a pee then were back on our way.
A right turn here to Kelso Depot and Cima
The next part of the ride was more interesting. The next place we came to was Kelso Depot.
A Railroad Through the Desert
Kelso Depot seems like an anomaly in the middle of the desert, but for the Union Pacific, it became a thriving necessity. Since its inception in 1862, the Union Pacific (UP) wanted a foothold on the West Coast. After reaching Portland, Oregon, the UP turned its attention to the rich California markets and the ports around Los Angeles. To get there, it needed to construct a railroad line across the Mojave Desert. Kelso was crucial to reaching that goal.
There was a photography exhibition in the lovely old building. A photographer from Los Angeles had spent all of January camping in the Mojave and he’d taken some striking photos of the desert in gorgeous light. The photographer was Gerard Burkhart a National Geographic contributor. His exhibition is called Shimmering Sky and the images show the beauty of the desert when not in the glaring, scorching heat of the summer months.
Back on the road, we rode past two trains of about 2 miles long each! I guess you make the most of a journey out here.
At around 3pm, we came to the strangest little town; it was like a throwback to some Californian hipster town from the 60s. Nipton.
There was a long queue at the little trading post store! It was for lottery tickets; the current jackpot is for 1.23 BILLION dollars.
Our next waypoint was Boulder City, Nevada (an old favourite but we hadn’t been able to get a room; we did fill up and have a coffee. Then it was past Lake Mead and a truly stunning ride to the Moapa Valley via Overton.
It had been a long and fairly hot day. We arrived in Mesquite at about 6pm. Checked in to the hotel, offloaded the bike and went across the road to have a meal in Peggy Sue’s 50s Diner.