A bigger day than the stats will suggest--cool, grey, headwinds, although not strong. Still, the wind easily shaved a mph off the average. We let Django trot for a good five miles at one point. Everybody got to get their cookies. The main blessing of this run was the generally excellent pavement. We encountered a fairly long section of recent work--and it wasn't chip seal. Astonishing. Even an older stretch of chip seal had been worn smooth by truck traffic and the withering summer heat. All was good.
By late morning, we'd landed in Baker, picked up our drop shipment at the east end of town, and parked in front of the Mad Greek for lunch. The madness of Baker roared around us, the constant flow of holiday travelers on the choked Hwy 15, the main artery to Las Vegas. Jodi and I ordered huge salads, savoring the fresh veggies, and organized our latest shipment. Added to the supplies we purchased after lunch, we once again had a huge load. Oh well, we'd eat through it one snack, one lunch, one breakfast, one dinner at a time. Baker to Twentynine Palms is the longest, most remote section of the tour. We had to get loaded.
We picked up a beer to celebrate and pushed out of the noise after a couple of hours, panniers bulging, water bags heavy. We passed the big can back and forth as we eased into the Mojave National Preserve. After a few miles we began looking for suitable campsites. Much sand made the pickings scarce at first, although we were prepared to pick up and portage the gear if necessary to get back from the road . Fresh, soft berms lined the way, evidence of recent plowing from all the heavy rains. Then we found a break in the berm that led down a dry wash, arroyo seco as they say in these parts. Surely it had to be too soft. We dismounted and scouted. I stepped onto the arroyo--like bloody pavement! We pushed over the minor berm and rolled down the wash leaving nary a mark. Camp deluxe, I tell you what. We watched dust storms rage through to the north while we enjoyed wind free conditions, although this would change in the morning. We reveled in a quiet, grand camp on Christmas eve, content, blessed, a simple meal of ginger dog-chow venison tough as a catcher's mitt, and sunset over the desert. It was all we needed.
Miles: 35; Total: 264
The glory that is Baker, CA:
Jodi's belly catches up with the beer: