September I got an email from my friend Cecile from Explore
California, that their Mojave Expedition was on and did
I want to go. Of
course I jumped at the chance to go.
I have done the trip with her and her husband, Roger, a few
times, and have been to the area many times with other friends
to explore roads and camp in the El Paso Mountains North of the
town of Mojave, Calif.
This area is
in the triangle created by Highways 14 and 395 on the west,
north and east sides, and the Garlock and Randsburg Road.
trip is one of the many tours offered by Explore Historic
California and is a one day trip.
area has had a lot of mining and old timers living in this area
for a long time. The
area is steeped in mining history.
With a few oddities not found in many places.
will lead you to, over, around and talk you thru the rich
history and give you a chance to see what your stock 4x4 can do.
Roger has much info to share over the CB radio as you
travel the area. I
think this is at least the third time I have done the Mojave
Expedition with them, and each time we travel a different route
with different but colorful history.
Roger can take you to holes that cleanser comes out of, to a
half-mile hard rock hole thru a mountain that nothing but hard
rock came out of.
story is mainly to talk about the last couple hours of the tour
and some of the pit-falls of desert travel that would not be anything more that a quick call to AAA
and a short wait if you where on pavement.
of the old timer’s, also known as Desert Rats, feel everyone is
looking to get-over-on-them, and they like to keep a gun handy
to impress the dim view they take about this.
Most of the land in this area is BLM managed, the
remainder is in private hands, some of it disputed ownership with the
The BLM stand is to let these old timers stay where they
are with the plan to out-wait them, then use the law to get the
land from the heirs who most likely hate the desert and won’t
dispute ownership. Plus
the BLM would look real foolish hauling men, and in a few cases,
women into court to spend their twilight years fighting
ownership on a few acres of desert land.
story opens with one of the desert rat women who is happy to use
her shotgun. She
seems to have kept her sharpshooter skill, but has lightened her
need to get results, which is good for us.
So as we drove by Della’s place she took the standard
dislike to outsiders, that we have come to know.
But since she finds the ‘bark’ better than the
‘bite’ she just fired a few shots our way.
I don’t feel she caused the tire damage that stopped us
very soon after passing her place.
But it did stir up the last band of rogue Native American
warriors who live in the area.
In these tight washes and canyons the modern 4x4 is no
match for a good horseman.
Once the bad guy locals tried to stop us, one of the
vehicles suffered a blow-out.
We had been heading toward an area called the ‘
’. As anyone who
has passed thru the
, knows it is not passable with a flat tire.
You need as much control and ground clearance as you can
Many of us have dealt with most back-country travel misfortunes
that come up in the desert Southwest. We did the basic split maneuver, and
left a small
group of well-prepared rigs to help the stranded rig, and the
people in it. As
the larger group leads the warriors away with their many tracks
and dust, we sat tight at the top of the
, out of view of any evil-doers.
Since most of us old timers have amateur radio licenses
and powerful radios we had a small advantage over the bad guys
with our ability to update the two groups about the pending
we started to change the tire, the pressing warriors and the
fast falling darkness that comes early in November was in the back of
our minds This gave
added urgency to the situation and need for speed.
There were four vehicles that stayed behind, the one with the
flat, the tour tailgunner Marty, Roger’s son Eric, and myself.
We started by all pitching in to make short work of the
busted tire along the trail, since Marty, Eric, and I have done
this more times than we can remember.
One guy helped the stranded rig owner get his spare
tire, and jack. Another
was loosening the lug nuts on the bad tire.
Once the jack was out the lifting started.
As the tire cover was removed on the rear outside mounted
tire, we found the spare tire was very low on air. It turned out to have
eight PSI. This would be
a terrible thing for the average highway traveler, but your basic
back country traveler always has an air compressor with
them. So, with
one of our on-board air-compressors, we filled the tire in short
order. We where working like a well orchestrated Indy 500 tire
change crew when everything came to a screeching halt.
the last owner of the crippled SUV had installed a wheel lock on the
spare, a good idea, but the new owner didn't have the key for it with
the vehicle. Since
the new owner had never had a flat tire he didn’t realize it
would be a problem.
with some “getter' done” thinking, we tried to remove the tire
lock. Well, as you
guessed this was not easy because the whole job of a lock is to
keep people without the key from unlocking it.
We had everything we needed to patch the tire, except
rip was in the sidewall and wasn’t a safe place to patch and
drive at highway speeds. There
are few things can’t be hammered out, and we eventually opened
With the tire change done, and the sun just setting, we made the
slow journey thru the
in the little twilight we had.
Lucky for us a large UFO appeared overhead and helped
light our way over the few dry falls. At first this seemed like
our luck was changing as
a UFO this big would also scare away the bad guys we knew would
the UFO opened up and starting firing at us! This really made changing that tire even a better idea.
As the laser beams blasted away at us, we where able to
keep our speed and weave behind the rocks as needed to make it
out alive. As we got
down near the Goler Heights compound, the UFO peeled away and
left us. The horse riding warriors where no where to be found
either. About the
only thing we didn’t see were any robots that had been
reported in the area.
now as we look back over the day, we had the great time we
always have on a trip with Roger Cecile, and Marty.
The only bad thing was being caught us off guard was the
unknown wheel lock on the spare tire.