Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Road Trip Day 2: Joshua Tree to Death Valley

Woke up to a chilly morning in Joshua Tree. Ate breakfast and then got an early start. We aim to camp in Death Valley tonight, but there's a lot we want to see in between.

First stop is a short hike to the 49 Palms oasis in Joshua Tree. With a little stream of running water, this would be a welcome sight for any desert traveler. After the people have left in the evening, longhorn sheep drop by each night to take a drink. While there we ran into a Croatian named Igor who runs his own eco lodge. You can check him out at

Back on the road, we hear North into even more desolate territory. Andy was curious to see a set of alphabetically named towns, starting with Amboy, California. Once a noteworthy stop on the old Route 66,  there's not much in Amboy now. The gas station is still open, but the airstrip, school, church, and just about everything else are in ruins.

Old Amboy Airstrip building
Back to this alphabetical town thing. Supposedly they were set up as a string of stops along the railroad, and indeed, the train rolls right by Amboy. But we had a tough time piecing together the rest of them.

  • Amboy
  • B_____?
  • Chambless / Cadiz
  • D_____?
  • Essex
  • F_____?
  • Goffs
  • Homer?
  • Ibis?
We drove along the tracks to where the B town would be and found some trucks, but no town to speak of. Maybe they left every other letter blank in case they needed to expand. While we were at this site another train came roaring by.

Back on what was Route 66, we hit the deserted Chambless and then check out Cadiz, which is shown on our map but seems to only be a commercial agricultural site now.

Back on the Road, we drive through the Mojave National Preserve. Just more desert really, but we make a stop in another old railroad town: Kelso, CA. It now serves as a visitor's venter for the preserve. Accidentally I disturb a tree full of owls that fly out in a panic.

We press on to the town of Baker and then finally into Death Valley as the sun is going down.

We arrive at the nearest campground after dark, but manage to find a decent spot. With Death Valley's low elevation (below sea level), it's much warner here than in Joshua Tree. We eat dinner and enjoy the rest of the evening.

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