Saturday, September 11, 2010

MOJAVE -- Small Town/Big Desert

First, I want to welcome a new follower, OneStonedCrow, whose blog from Namibia I really enjoy.

Then, how about a little road trip? Yesterday morning, I had to run an errand in the small town of Mojave, California, about 20 miles away.

Ever since I moved out west, I have been fascinated with these strangely appealing small western towns. It started in a small Colorado or Texas panhandle town, where on my first trip out west in 1969, I had to use the bathroom. Finding a bathroom there was a very interesting experience. I have forgotten the name of the town, but I'll never forget the flavor and look of the place.

This being California, you don't see many people on the streets, but the buildings are the same, flat-roofed and ugly. The same signs are everywhere: billboards, gas stations, and motels. Driving through these small, almost abandoned-looking, towns, somehow appeals to my sense of adventure. Maybe because they are so very different from anything you see in Europe or on the East Coast.

The Mojave Desert covers a large part of southern California and parts of central California, Nevada, Utah and Arizona. It is home to burros, California desert tortoises, sidewinders, Mojave rattlesnakes, scorpions and many other critters designed for a hardy life. Much of the Mojave is high desert country -- 3,000 to 6,000 feet -- but Death Valley, the lowest and hottest place in the US, is also located in this desert.

This was the only place I could stop on the freeway and it didn't have any good views of the desert. But something interesting is in the background. Can you see it?

I bet you never wondered where airplanes go when they die. Well, in the US, they come to the airplane boneyard in the Mojave Desert outside the town of Mojave. Acres and acres of planes, military and civilian, sit on the tarmacs here. Hopefully, you can see some of them in my photo above or click on it to enlarge it.

And if you're interested, you can read more about this boneyard here or you can always Google it, of course. How did we ever find out anything before Google?

I stopped again, not legally this time, and took this photo of our highway cutting through the desert, right before I turned on to it to drive home.

Here are some trucks coming from the weigh-station. They have this weigh-station for trucks going west and another coming up from the San Joaquin Valley, going east. Thousands of trucks come up from the desert or the valley and travel through Tehachapi every day. You can also see the wind turbines, a major industry in these mountains, on top of the mountain in the center.

When a turn-off came up, I pulled off to see if I could find something interesting or pretty to show you. I think I found both: Pretty colors of desert vegetation against a clear blue sky. And then this!

I wonder how long this advertisement has been sitting here. Someone stripped the engine, tires, and everything else that could come off this old truck.

Leaving the empty engine space as a nice-size flower pot for desert plants. I saw a truck like this that was used as a "real" flower pot -- by that I mean people had actually planted stuff in the truck bed -- on OneStonedCrow's blog from Namibia a while back. We have found other old abandoned trucks in the desert around here, but never one with plants growing in it. Read about our hike to the ruins and the old beer truck here.

Before I moved here, I would not have found this beautiful, preferring instead a greener landscape dotted with blue lakes. Now I love it. It's interesting what we can grow to love once we understand a little more about how it all works. And the desert works -- in unusual ways to me, perhaps -- but it works.

Just look at the many colors in this photo!

It's strange and amazing to me that plants and animals can survive and even flourish like this here.

Let's end with a rare sight in the windy mountains of Tehachapi: Wind turbines standing still!

I hope you enjoyed this little excursion to the Mojave Desert and the Tehachapi mountains that border it to the west.

Have a great day!


  1. I enjoyed your post!! I have spent some time in Arizona and one of the things that struck me immediately about the desert is the intense beauty of the landscape. Here in Virginia the hills are green, lush and rolling, but in the desert, everything is sharpened and intensified--As your pictures showed and as you know the beauty of the desert is not in smooth contours but instead its in rugged outlines and jagged edges. I also loved that desert plants are full of intensity. One thing I remember is the sagebrush. My friend who had grown up there told me to crush it and then smell it--It had an amazing pungent fragrance that was like no other and one I'll never forget. Thanks for taking us along on your trip!

  2. Thanks for the greeting Inger - I enjoyed this post ... what kind of strange looking tree is that in the one pic? ... loved the old car wreck ...

  3. Kim: What a wonderful description of the desert, thank you.

    OneStonedCrow: You are so welcome. It's a Joshua Tree, I believe, and very common in the southern parts of the Mojave where there is a town by that name as well.

  4. That was fabulous! I adore where you live. xxx

  5. Lovely ride, I love the desert! Isn't there also a Joshua Tree State Park? I think they are splendid!

  6. This was an enjoyable and educational venture today. Thank you from a southern state.
    Thanks for visiting and leaving an encouraging comment on my blog.

  7. Tracey: Thank you so much. I'm sure I would love where you live as well.

    Sharon: Yes, there is a state park too. I hope there is a town, I think so.

    Peggy: I'm sorry, I should have visited you long ago. I will add your blog to those I follow regularly now. I'm glad you liked the post.

  8. Hi there Canyon Girl, Thank you so much for stopping by and joining to follower me. I am so glad you did, because I have found you! I love desert areas and canyons. I will get comfortable and peruse some of your entries later tonight. Hugs, Gerry

  9. What amazing pictures! I especially liked the abandoned truck...

  10. Hi Inger,

    I love the Joshua trees...they are really beautiful! I'll be in CA most of the month of October and look forward to taking lots of photos along the way!

  11. I love taking a peek into where other people live and travel. Thanks for sharing your trip with us. You've taken some great shots and very interesting/quirky ones too!

  12. Hello Inger,
    thank you for visiting my blog and leaving such a lovely comment.
    I have just read this post and found it so interesting, you are right, there are so many colours when you look hard enough. I will pop back over later to read some of your previous posts.

  13. enjoyed the post! it reminds me of the drive up 295 towards death valley. yes, the tree is a joshua tree in your photo and i live in the town of joshua tree and it there is a national park here! it is truly amazing how so much life sustains itself here in the desert. from the naked eye, everything appears dead, but when you have time to take notice, you discover so much life - a bit more subtle than other areas for sure!

  14. Gerry: I will come back to visit you too. I'm so grateful for the information re. the link. I think I will post something about it later as well. I used to write user manuals for computer software at UCLA, so it bugs me when I don't know something like that.

    Cambray Blue: Thanks, I loved the truck too. Such character!.

    Judy: I hope you'll have a wonderful time in CA and will let us all know all about it.

    Joyful: Thanks, and I'm glad you came by to visit. We both like the African blogs, so we have that in common and I like the quirky stuff, so I'm glad you noticed.

    Lyn: I love to find new blogs, like yours, that I want to follow. I'll be back soon.

    Hopeful: I was hoping you would visit from the other end of this great desert. Thanks for verifying what I thought I knew. My husband used to do rock climbing in Joshua Tree National Park when he was young.

  15. Wow! Totally enjoyed this Inger. Thanks so much! The truck pic was fascinating as was the 'boneyard' for planes. I never knew where they I know. I wonder if they sell them like a used car lot.

  16. Jabacue: I read that they are destroyed there too. The planes. Now I wonder too if they do sell some of them. Time to google again?


Thanks for leaving a comment.. ~~ Inger


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