March 15 to April 1, 2017
After a memorable side trip to Colorado to check in with the tax man and a handful of doctors (they continue to keep me alive and thriving) it was back to Arizona and Big Mo. She missed me. I restocked the fridge and liquor cabinet and checked into the Saddle Mountain RV Park and poultry ranch (I can close my eyes and still smell the chickens). A remote exit off I-10, Tonopah, AZ (not the Nevada one in the song Willin’ – “I’ve been from Tucson to Tucumcari, Tehachapi to Tonapah”) where the main attraction is the Palo Verde Nuclear Plant and a ton of desert roads into the Eagletail Mountains and Kofa National Wildlife Refuge. Real wild and desolate desert that would kill you if it can.
Mapped out a day trip to drive by the power plant and try to find the Royal Arch marked on my map, located somewhere near the Kofa. First part of the route was on good gravel roads with the main surprise being a massive solar power array next to the nuclear facility – dirty energy vs clean. The second part of the trip was real desert doggin’ over some rough but fun 4×4 roads. This is where it really sunk in – I had better learn to change a truck tire! Just a mile from the mystery arch I busted through a patch of cholla and boom! I gashed my outside dually tire on the passenger side. Shit balls. The thing about dual tires – you can drive on a flat since you have 3 more to keep you going so I decided to limp back to Tonopah where I knew there was a tire repair shop. A friendly dude whipped my spare on in 5 minutes (would have taken me 60). But the tire was ruined (side wall gashes are un-repairable as I found out). It was my second trashed tire in 3 months… and a new radial truck tire ain’t cheap (which I found out at Twentynine Palms Discount Tire – my next stop). (click on the pics for full size)
Bye bye Arizona…. hello Cali-freakin-fornia! Land of fruits, nuts and weird looking trees. My destination was the Twentynine Palms RV & Golf Resort. Friendly place near a strip-town right out of the 50’s. Tattoo parlors and Combat barbershops lined the main drag. Besides being the northern gateway to Joshua Tree National Park it is the main entrance to the massive Marine Air Ground Combat Center. Side note: Another thing that amazes me on this road trip is the number of and size of government restricted military facilities in the West. Freakin HUGE blocks of desert and mountain land that you’ll never see unless you are a General. One can only guess what’s going on up there!
While Twentynine Palms is nothing to write home about…. Joshua Tree National Park is! Magical, other-worldly kind a place with a playground of rocks and strange vegetation unlike anything I’ve seen. Number of cool drives and trails through what is a Nirvana for rock climbers. Took a stroll around the Hall of Horrors, Jumbo Rocks, and Hemingway one day, hiked 2.5 miles into a hidden canyon with wild native palm trees (Fortynine Palms Oasis) another. Key to this place would be camping inside the park in one of the very cool campsites they have, Big Mo is just too tubby to fit. Ended my stay with a massive dust storm that deposited 2 inches of fine dirt on my decks. Something else I’m learning that is part of springtime in the desert SW! And if the winds don’t blow me back to Kansas, next stop will be Death Valley!