Saturday, April 30, 2011

Mojave Desert Trip

Over my birthday weekend I traveled with some friends to the semi-ghost town of Randsburg in the Mojave desert.  Randsburg was a thriving gold mining town up through the 20's until the gold was no long economical to mine.  It is now a desert trip attraction and a great place to get a burger and a beer when off roading in your Jeep.  I haven't done either myself at Randsburg but that is what I have been told.  It was sunny and in the low 80s when we arrived. 
(click on the photos for a larger view!)  This the the Randsburg Inn but don't let the sign fool you, it is a junk store and not an Inn.  There is an Inn but it was closed when we were there.  Perhaps it opens later in the season?    Next is the main street of Randsburg.  The most modern building is the Kern County fire station which is pretty nice.  I wonder if being station there is a hardship tour?   The Grouch standing in front of the city jail.  It was pretty small so either criminals were smaller then or the city fathers didn't want the miscreants to get too comfortable in there!
After leaving Randsburg we drove into the hills and came to a great rock pile outlook for lunch and surveying the surrounding territory.  We looked for wagon trains and outlaws but didn't see any so we set off for a dry lake bed that we saw in the distance.
This lake bed is covered with salt and sometimes even water if the rainy season is in fact rainy.   This time about a fifth of the lake bed had water on it at one end.   The lake bed is used as a model rocket launch range and young son has been there in the past with his boy scout troop launching rockets.  When I went with the troop we found remnants of WW2 .50 cartridge cases and bullets laying about on the lake bed.  I can only guess it was an aircraft gunnery range.  The pictures of the cases and bullets are from that trip of several years ago.  The rifle cartridge in the center of the two cases is for scale.

Walking on the lake bed was an interesting sensation, it was like walking on a sponge. We looked for interesting artifacts but the only thing we found was a meteorite!  Right in the middle of the white expanse of salt was a small cluster of rocks which is what I had read is how meteorites are found.  I checked the rocks (more like pebbles) and they contained iron so it is a good guess that I was looking at the last of meteorite!  Too cool!  Sorry, didn't think to take a picture of that discovery.
We finished up with a self tour through the Mojave desert tortoise preserve.  We didn't see any tortoises but we did see this extremely well camouflaged lizard!   The Army should adopt this camo pattern for desert use.

It was a great trip with great weather and great friends.

1 comment:

  1. I think I remember that jail from previous trips. Looks like a great time.