On December 30 we headed out (almost on a spur of the moment) to the Mojave (pronounced Mohavey) Desert to join our friends the Berggren’s for one night of their family holiday.
The Berggren’s have a good sized 30ft caravan (trailer as they call them here), that with a little squishing managed to fit four adults and seven children quite adequately. They also squeezed a couple of quad bikes, trail bikes and an off road buggy in to the trailer to take along.
The Mojave Desert is an interesting place. It is the home of the Edwards Air force Base which hosts the Air Force Flight Test Center (including the B2 Bomber) and has frequently been the landing site of the Space Shuttle – in other words it has a really, really long runway. There is also a Airliner junkyard nearby that we drove past, with a huge variety of jets sitting around awaiting scrapping. On the trip we also saw one of the huge wind farms that are out here – dwarfing the ones in the Manawatu or Wellington.
Where we stayed was also interesting! There is a small town called California City (population approximately 13,000 according to the sign), and a few miles away there is an area that was set aside for a new settlement. They planned the roads, and sealed them, but then abandoned the whole idea. So today (I don’t’ know how much later, but I’m guessing 40-50 years later) these streets remain, and they are still unsettled.
However, they are not unused. The roads, and the now many tracks that criss-cross the area are used by motorcyclists, off-roaders and whoever else wants a place they can get out and rip up some turf. And the locals have cottoned on and charge a nominal annual fee for camping there. As a result, several times a year groups of riders and drivers head out there to ride and drive.
This is where we were camping (Skylark Court) – you can see all the streets have names, and if you zoom in you can even see the tracks where the girls were zipping around on their quads and the buggy.
The Berggren’s buggy was great fun to drive, and Natasha had a great time driving (for the first time).
Josephine also got a composite bow and some arrows for Christmas and she had a great time shooting (with uncanny success) at her target. The ground is quite rocky, so the arrows felt a little battered at the end of the day.
Staying a night in the desert was something Shelley had been keen to do, so we’ve ticked that off the list (as she says). The desert was nice and warm during the day (around 25 degrees Celsius – probably warmer), and at night it got quite cool thanks to a breeze that went through the camp. However, we lit a fire in a fire pit someone had built with stones and roasted some marshmallows while talking.
It was fascinating learning more about trailers (caravans) in the United States (which are quite cheap and very well decked out compared to New Zealand). We also really enjoyed the time and hospitality of the Berggren’s and are grateful we could share this experience with them!