Crossing the Mojave Desert

After waking up to a lovely sunrise over the Colorado River, we did our morning things, and then I said my goodbyes to Birgit and Tom, who are off to Quartzite. I’ll look them up when I head that way to catch back up with them (and learn my way around Quartzite). But for now, I’m on my own.

Google absolutely refused to take me to the El Garces Hotel in Needles. First it took me around in circles on dirt roads. Then it tried to take me under a closed underpass that was too low for my van anyway. After trying to fool Google into getting me there, I gave up and hopped I-40 out of town until US 95 split off, which took me back to Route 66.

It was another day of putting down miles across the desert, with several waypoints of interest to keep me on course. The first was Goff’s Schoolhouse, which is now a museum with local artifacts. It wasn’t open today, but was still worth a look.

Then I had more navigational problems that weren’t even Google’s fault. Route 66 was closed for about 30 miles, forcing me back to I-40 and to miss a few landmarks that were on my route. Bummer, but what can you do?

The next site I could actually get to was Roy’s Motel and Cafe in Amboy. The motel is long since closed, and the cafe is now a gift shop with snacks and cold drinks as well, useful for travelers caught in the desert unprepared.

Some of the cabins had their doors wide open, so I couldn’t resist a peek inside. They’re small, but perfectly adequate for an overnight. Besides, I live in a van — who am I to criticize a room for being small?

Just down the road was Amboy Crater. Unlike Meteor Crater, this really is a volcanic one, with obvious lava flows stretching out all over. I thought about taking the trail out to and around the crater, but signs warned against it due to the heat. I checked, and it was 92°! Wasn’t I just fending off temperatures in the 30s a few short days ago?

If it was cooler, I would’ve tried the three-mile hike, but I decided against it. Hopefully next time. This is BLM land, and overnight camping is allowed. I actually thought about spending the night, but I have meetings in the morning, and there is no cell signal here. So I pressed on toward Barstow.

The Ludlow Cafe is apparently a thing. It and the gas station across the street are the only oasis for miles around.

The Bagdad Cafe is definitely a thing, with a movie made about it in 1987. I’ve never seen it, but now I have to.

The final waypoint on this leg of the journey was the Daggett Pioneer Cemetery. I couldn’t find much info about it, and most of the graves are unmarked, with just a simple wooden cross with badly faded white paint. I wonder what the stories are behind the people who are buried here.

Soon after, I rolled into my overnight spot in Barstow. It’s getting to a point where I have to plan not only my Route 66 travel, but also my landing at Carolyn’s in Monterey Park. I don’t want to overshoot her and drive straight into the heart of Los Angeles by accident, especially in this beast of a van. There are many reasons why I want to finish the Route 66 trip on the bike, which I’ll get into later. At this point, I’m counting down the days remaining in this journey, and my arrival at Carolyn’s. But today was a reminder that just because I’m in California now doesn’t mean my journey is over yet. There are still more challenges awaiting me.

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