On the road to Las Vegas

Monday morning, we got up pretty much with the sunrise and got going. It was easier and quicker than we had planned – we didn’t bring a stove which wasn’t planned but did speed up the mornings – and we were on the road out of the Carrizo Plain by seven AM. The Carrizo Plain is a large graben in the middle of the coast range. The San Andreas fault runs through it – actually, I guess, it is caused by the fault – like a zipper.

We camped just off the road – on the left side of the fault, on the Pacific Plate – in the picture above but, on the ground, everything looks pretty flat and we wouldn’t know – without being told – that one end of the road is on the Pacific Plate and the other on the North American Plate. Behind us, in the picture below  is the Trembler Range – great name! – and over it, past a few wildflowers blooming, is the San Joaquin Valley where they are still pumping out oil after over a hundred years. But first, we had to backtrack past the community center of the pseudo town just north of the Carrizo Plain. The picnic tables offer a great view of a future, sun powered, electric plant.

The it was just a matter of beating our way east – past Bakersfield, Tehachapi, Mojave, and Barstow – until we got to the Mojave National Preserve. I am not sure what a National Preserve is compared to a National Park except that a Preserve allows hunting – hunting what, here, I am not sure – but the Mojave National Preserve does have a heavy duty set of railroad tracks going through the middle and a lot of in-holdings. Our first stop was the Preserve headquarters at Kelso to get a couple of suggestions on camping spots.

Then it was up to Granite Pass at about 4,000 feet to find a legal camping spot. In Death Valley National Park, we can camp almost anywhere as long as we are three miles off the paved road; at Mojave, we had to camp where there was a fire ring. At DV, we can’t have ground fires and, at Mojave, we can (in the ring, presumably). I prefer the DV system because it spreads the campers out  and there are no overused fire rings. But the area was nice and, at 4,000 feet, we were starting to run into Junipers.

We spent the late afternoon wandering around, looking at blooming plants – including several Echinocereus engelmannii and a cute little echeveria type plant (maybe a   Dudleya saxosa) – and admiring the round, exfoliating, granite, boulders as the setting sun turned them orange.

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