Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Suggested route change for your next Vegas trip.

Years ago in a previous life, I was a field service technician for a chemical company. Part
of my territory was Las Vegas, Nevada and I made the run to and from about once every
five or six weeks. To be honest, when I first started, I was the typical southern Californian
barrelling across the Mojave on I-15 about 75 miles per hour,windows up, air conditioner
and radio cranking, in a major hurry. Gotta get there, rapido!

But as the years went by, my appreciation for the desert vistas grew and I started slowing
down and watching the scenery. One day I was looking at a mapbook and
I decided to try this route which I am posting about today.

When you get to Baker exit the freeway at the Mojave National Preserve off-ramp. My
advice to you is to stop and load up on bottled water and some snacks while in town.
Then go south on Kelbaker Road at a leisurely pace for the next 30 miles or so until you
reach Kelso Depot. As you go down into the valley, you'll see it way off in the distance
before you get to it.

Kelso Depot has been restored and now serves as the park hqtrs and a museum and even
has a lunch counter open, the Beanery. Check out the photo albums laid out from the cameras
setup at the watering holes for pictures of wildlife in the preserve. The museum is great, I love
history especially the history of the Mojave, you won't be disappointed. They have a gift shop
as well. After your visit to the depot, if you have time, continue south about 5 miles on Kelbaker
Road and visit the Kelso Dunes which you will see in the distance.

If you're short of time, I recommend you head north the 18 miles to Cima via Cima Road.
On the way up when you  reach Cedar Canyon Road, if you turn right and go up about 8 miles
or so you will see the Rock House which is where I took my backporch photo on the top of my
blog page. Get out of the car at the intersection, look left off in the distance the dirt road that
takes up at the intersection going west is the old Mojave Road and to the right of that ,the rounded
giant formation is Cima Dome.

Once you get to Cima, there is a small general store which may be open but I hear the post office
has been closed down. At the intersection, turn left, the sign says I-15 I believe. You will be on the right
road if you see these old structures. It is okay to take pictures but that is private property so stay
out of the buildings.

After you leave the "ghost town"
continue on through the Joshua Tree
forest and within 2 miles you will see
a very scenic ranch as the road curves around to bypass it. This is another
private property holding here in the

In another mile or so after the ranch
you should see a pile of giant rocks
on the right, on the other side of the
road is the Teutonia Peak trailhead.
I have hiked this and it is a very relaxing time although there is some work involved going up the mountain.
I am not in the best of shape, it has been said that Morongobill might be one or two ounces over-
weight but I made it up! It is about 3 miles roundtrip or so. By the way, that iron pole with the plywood
boards on it is the famous Mojave Desert Cross, the presence of which there is before the United States Supreme Court right now, we are awaiting the ruling now. I hope it stays myself. It is on Sunrise Rock.

After leaving here, continue north about 10 miles further and you will eventually run into I-15 Cima Road
exit near the rest stop. I recommend you go in and check out the store, gas however, is very expensive. It
was over $4 a gallon the last time I stopped in several months ago!

From here, heading uphill, at the top of the grade you will be at Mountain Pass,
where they will be soon re-opening the rare earth mines. This is one of the few sites
in the whole world where these are available in commercial quantities. If you take
off ramp and go straight following alongside the freeway, you will end up on a
dirt road which after a few miles will take you to Kokoweef, they say there is
a river of gold there underground. There is information here:

Here is another link to this legend:

I made it with my Ford Thunderbird to as far as the little settlement pictured on the second site link, and
didn't know if it was okay to go further(private property?) and turned around and came back to the
freeway with no problems. I even met a miner on the way up, who saw me taking photos and asked if I was okay, not broken down or anything.

From here, just get back on the freeway until you reach the Nipton Road exit. If you turn right and go about
6 miles or so, you'll be in Nipton, where I strongly recommend you check out the general store. They also
have rv campsites and tent cabins as well. There is a restaurant and the Nipton Hotel where Clara Bow,
the silent movie actress had her own room and stayed there often.

On the way out to Nipton, when you are in the valley floor and you see Nipton about 4 miles away,
on the right side of the road there is an empty clearing, that is where I took the photos in my previous
post here:http://morongobillsbackporch.blogspot.com/2010/01/i-have-bone-to-pick-with-mohave.html
You'll get a different feel walking there now.

From here you just head back to I-15 and go on to "Lost Wages". As you approach the freeway, go over the bridge and pull off the road on the other side by the phone company building, you can park there. The hill to the right is the one where I took the overview of the Ivanpah valley and looking out in the distance there to the left side of the freeway and near the valley bottom about a mile or so in, is where the proposed Bright-
Source Solar Project is supposed to be built. You know my position on that already if you have been
reading my blog over the last few days.

What I sincerely hope is that by taking this little detour some of the "mojave mystique" has rubbed off on you
and you will at least be open minded on thoughts and feeling about whether this area is worth saving.
If you have some timme, get back on the freeway and get off at the next exit and head over to the left side of the lakebed and head up on the dirt roads and check out the area where the plant site is to be.

Well my friends, vaya con dios, look forward to seeing and chatting with you again on the backporch.


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