To put it simply, our one-week stay in the Mojave National Preserve was my favorite week of our trip thus far. We left Barstow, CA on the morning of March 26th headed for a spot just within the preserve, called “Dharma Tower.” We had seen a couple of reviews for the location on “Campendium,” a website where we find most of our camping locations. Reviews stated that the spot was beautiful, accessible and boasted good cell data connection, which are all very important to us when choosing a spot. Mojave was another location suggested to me by my mom, who spent over two years living in Southern California and knows all the best places to visit. This was her best suggestion yet.
We arrived midday on a Sunday, and there was not a single other camper in sight. This set the tone for our entire stay there, as this was the most remote and secluded destination of our travels thus far.
We are so stoked to finally be back out in the wilderness after nearly three weeks in L.A. Getting to see so much of L.A. and the surrounding area was a blast, but after some of the misfortunes that we experienced while there (see our last post), we were so ready to return to the open expanses of the wild. As difficult as the adversities in L.A. were, it has been great to get the issues with our rig repaired. We're feeling grateful to be happy, healthy, and safe. Excited for an enjoyable week in the beauty of the (currently lush) Mohave desert. 🏜 ~B
This spring 2017 was a noteworthy year for the wildflowers of California, with many referring to the desert’s spring bloom as a “superbloom,” which was caused by all the rain California endured over the winter months. A superbloom is a sort of reward for putting up with ridiculous amounts of rain in an area which is not supposed to rain often. Since the superbloom technically began in the very beginning of March, we were worried that we had missed it while stuck in LA, but we somehow lucked out, as there were wildflowers waiting for us in the Mojave. Our whole campsite was filled with little yellow wildflowers, and there was also the occasional purple wildflower, which was so fun for us. We are easily delighted by simple pleasures, I suppose.
Before traveling to California, we did not even know that strong, winter desert winds were a thing. We did not find out how intense the wind could be until we ended up in the middle of a ridiculous windstorm while camped on a dry lake bed, with nothing to stop the wind or protect us from it. It was truly terrifying, and it left me with a perpetual and somewhat irrational fear of wind (you can read more about this specifically terrifying wind experience here). My uncle also told us about all the times he has seen overturned semis during bad windstorms, and after doing some googling, we learned that the California desert winds were to be taken very seriously. All that aside, because of my fear of the wind, I wanted to leave the Mojave Preserve, that we had arrived in just that day, almost immediately. Luckily, Brendan was able to convince me to stay the night and see how I felt about it the next morning.
Well, that night came and went without incident, and I decided to give the Preserve another shot. I’m SO glad that I did! The wind turned out to be tolerable and not too bad overall, and we had such an amazing week there. The huge boulders next to us helped to block a lot of the wind, and we also parked our tow vehicle in such a way so that it would break the wind for us. With these two factors, the wind was hardly even an issue in our lovely stay.
The office views here are so amazing. One of the reasons we really love boondocking is that it allows you to wake up surrounded by nothing but nature. RV parks have their place, but we really prefer to look out our window and see the desert, instead of another RV. . While boondocking, we tend to drive out a little further than most people, but in our current location, we are literally completely alone! This is our first time having an entire place almost completely to ourselves, and we are really loving the silence and solitude. ❤️🌼🏜 ~S
On Wednesday, we set out early, eager to enjoy the entirety of our “exploring day.” We realized in all the excitement to get to the Mojave Preserve that we had filled gasoline on our RV, but not on our Cherokee. We had planned a couple of hikes for the day, but some of them were a bit further than we would have been comfortable driving on a less-than-full gas tank. Because of this, we decided to go get gas first, before beginning our day. Due to the remoteness of the Preserve, there was only one gas station around, located thirty minutes in the opposite direction of the hikes. However, this gas station was located on “Route 66,” the iconic American road trip highway, so we were not completely disappointed about the hour of driving this gas scenario had added to our morning.
We decided to check out the Kelso Sand Dunes on our drive back to our campsite, hoping to watch the sunset there. When we arrived at the dunes, we realized that there was a one-mile hike out to the dunes, and we were not sure we could make it there by sunset. We were also tired from the two previous hikes and the heat of the day, so we opted to watch the sunset from our car and come back in a couple days to complete the full hike out to the dunes.
When we returned to the RV, I made ceviche for the first time, and it was delicious! I had watched my aunt make it during our December visit with them, and I mimicked her recipe, using shrimp, imitation crab, cucumber, jalapeno, tomato, cilantro, red onion, tomato juice, and lime juice. We ate it as a cold salad with tortilla chips, and it was so, so good! I will definitely be making it again.
On our last afternoon in the Mojave National Preserve, we headed back to Kelso Sand Dunes, and we planned to hike the full distance to the dunes and fully explore them. We left a bit later than we had planned, and we arrived at the dunes around 5pm with Luna in tow. It was only about a mile out to the largest sand dune, but we did not realize that the sand on these dunes is not your typical desert sand, but is instead basically like sand that you find on the beach. We ended up hiking up and down the sandy hills to reach the largest dunes, and it was akin to trudging through sandy hills at the beach. It was gorgeous and scenic, but very tiring. At a certain point, I took off my shoes and walked barefoot over the soft sand, which actually helped to make it a bit easier to hike through the sand.
It quickly began to become dark, and we made it back to our RV as the moon rose into the sky for the night. It was so worth it to make sure we experienced the dunes before leaving for our next destination.
We spent the next morning packing up and left that afternoon, but we will never forget our wonderful time spent in the Mojave Preserve.
If we hadn’t been in such a rush to reach Death Valley National Park before it became unbearably hot, we would have spent a second week there. I am so glad that we did not decide to leave because of the intense wind, which did not end up being so bad after all. We are so grateful for our refreshing time there, and we are hoping for the opportunity to visit once again another year.