Easy Two Hour Drive Made Hard

Saturday, February 14, 2015 – Valentine’s Day

This morning, I wasn’t in a hurry to pack and leave since I only had a leisurely drive through Joshua Tree N.P.  Yuma couldn’t believe all the new neighbors that moved in overnight.  When we went to bed there was no one around our camp.  Must be a busy place on the weekends.

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I had forgotten to get some propane bottles yesterday at Walmart and even though I am sure I won’t need them, I better get some anyway.  Never know when there may be a cold snap and I only have two bottles left.

Was packed and on the road to Walmart by 9 am.  Got some gas and four bottles of propane and we headed to the north entrance of Joshua Tree N.P. at Twentynine Palms to cut through the park south to I-10.  Only 140 miles today.  That’s nice.

Got to the entrance about 10:15 am and had a nice leisurely 45 mile drive down Pinto Basin Road to the south exit of the park at the Cottonwood entrance 8 miles north of I-10. 

We started by going up through a mountain pass and then dropped down into the expansive Pinto Basin.  I could see Pinto Mountain at 3983 feet above the floor to my northeast.imageimage

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As we neared the basin floor, there was a large Cholla cactus patch.  They grew in this specific area but not in the rest of the basin.  Yuma did not want to stop here.image

We then went up a long grade through a pass in the Cottonwood Mountains.

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Al of the Travel With The BayField Bunch had told me there is a dirt road about two miles from I-10 where I could stay the night.  I found it with no problem.  Turned west on the dirt road;  however, there were a lot of people camping along the road. 

I think, because it is Valentine’s Day weekend and it is also a free pass weekend to the park, there were more than the normal amount of people.  I noticed as I passed through the park, all the campground signs said “Full”.  Glad I wasn’t planning to stay at a campground this weekend.

Here is where things went wrong.  The road was a nice gravel road running along high wires going east to west through the valley and following I-10 for the most part.  I decided to drive until there were no more campers, tents, vans and RVs.

After about two miles, the people petered out and I was looking for a place to turn off and camp.  But, there were no more turn offs or places to camp.  I kept driving along the high wires hoping to find a place to turn the 30’ motorhome with a 15’ jeep hooked behind and there were no places to turn around.

About four miles down the road I came to a split in the dirt road.  Stopped and walked down the road to the right, but it went into a quarry.  Didn’t want to go that way, so followed the left one that went downhill towards I-10 in the distance.image

It was just a graded road with rocks piled to the side.  No place large enough to turn around.  In my mind, this road went on forever.

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The road got narrower and rougher and hillier and soon I was going around 5 mph trying not to have a flat tire on the sharp rocks in the roadway.  There were places I had to speed up going downhill in order to make the next hilltop.

The worst part is I am out in the middle of nowhere and don’t know if this road will ever end up on a paved road.  I could see I-10 to my left but no where to get on it.image

After 15 miles of this 5mph up and down over sharp rocks and sand, I finally saw a building on the other side of I-10.  I prayed that there was an exit to get to that building and sure enough, there was an on and off ramp to I-10.  I had made it, but the stress, has taken its toll, plus no lunch. I am dead tired!  This little 15 mile drive had taken over two stress filled hours.imageimage

My plan had been to spend the night where Al said there were campsites and by gosh that was what I was going to do.  So I drove 15 miles back east to my original dirt road.

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But this time I went east.  There were fewer campers on the east road.  After about 2 miles going east I was beginning to think I was in the same predicament.  No campers, but no turn offs either.

But this time I was more fortunate.  Found this lovely circle drive right off the dirt road that was perfect.  I may have to unhook the jeep to turn around, but I am beyond caring right now.

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I am so tired, I just may stay two nights to rest up before heading down Box Canyon Road to Mecca and then to the west shore of the Salton Sea.  Amazing what stress can do to your body.  Sometimes I wonder how I manage to get into these situations.  Just dumb, I guess.

Glad to see such a beautiful sunset.

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See you later.

6 comments:

  1. Sure know that feeling of heading down a desert dirt road not knowing if we'll be able to turn around or not. We've had to un-hook the Jeep a couple times. Luckily you found that on/off ramp at I-10.

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    1. It does give you a queasy feeling driving along not knowing if you are going to come to a dead end or a locked fence. There were several spots I could have unhooked the jeep and made a turn around early on, but being stubborn, I kept thinking the end was just around the next corner, until it was too late and the opportunities to unhook and turn around were gone.

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  2. Glad you made it to your destination. Those desert roads can be treacherous. My husband, who grew up down here, once told me to take one (we had our Honda Accord at that time) and I got STUCK! We were not too far from you, in Sky Valley. I had to call a tow truck and $200 later, we were OUTTA THERE! So, please be careful!
    Cheryl Ann

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    1. I always try to be careful, but it seems problems still lurk out here. Getting stuck in this big motorhome or have a flat tire would cost a pretty penny to resolve. Hopefully, that is my last adventure of this sort this winter.

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  3. Very stressful. We found ourselves on a road like that but it was a dead end. We were towing a fifth wheel and a boat attached to the back so we were 72' long. I was in tears (of course). Jim had to unhook the boat and push it back down the road himself to a place where there was enough room. It took probably two hours of backing and forthing with the fiver in order to get it turned around and the boat hooked up again. I am really really cautious abut heading down any dirt roads any more. So glad you found a place to park and relax and unwind.

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    1. WOW Sandie, and I thought I had problems. That must have been horrible. Glad Jim was strong enough to move that boat. Don't think I can do that kind of straining work anymore. It is so easy to get stuck in the sand around here, too. Not much play when you get off the road in the desert. I think it is the stress of the situation that wears you down.

      I am glad I did come back though. The camp I'm in is just beautiful in a brown and bland desert way. I have always liked the color brown anyway. I think I will stay another night just because I'm in no hurry to get to the next destination.

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