From Big Bear Lake To The Mojave Desert

11 08 2010

Yesterday we left Big Bear Lake on a long and steep descent to the Mojave Desert. Before heading down we stopped at the Big Bear Discovery Center, which had some great exhibits and animal skins. We also managed to freak our families out with some well-angled pictures of us with a stuffed black bear.

Amy With The Bear

Amy With The Bear

The museum also had a cool exhibit that allowed visitors to create sandbox pawprints of various animals. We used the prints to identify tracks we had seen at Yellow Post Site 26. A bobcat had walked through our site!

The Pawprint Sandbox

The Pawprint Sandbox

The descent was among the toughest driving we’ve had so far. Switchbacks down a 16% grade are a bit harrowing in an RV, but there were a good number of trucks on the road, which made me a bit more comfortable in our 23′ RV.

Halfway down the mountain we looked out on the desert. Mountains for miles, and in the distance nothing but flat tan land – as far as we could see. The bottom of the road dropped us in Lucerne Valley, a small mining community of just over 5,000. It was pretty darn hot driving through and we saw signs for a cooling center. It was a no-brainer to drop in.

The cooling center was located in a senior center and was beautifully quaint. The large air-conditioned room had a good movie playing, board games, a pool table, and best of all free raspberry tea and strawberry shortcake courtesy of the local power company. We asked about the $4 lunch that was advertised and were told that it was good, but that if we wanted a cheaper option that we could go next door for a $2 meal. Wow.

The center was happy to give us access to their spigot and we filled up our water tank, which seemed like a weird thing to be able to do in the desert. Earlier in the day we had filled up on propane, so we were looking good in terms of resources.

The later drive to Hesperia and Victorville was pretty uneventful, and we stopped by another small-town mechanic to get a couple of quick things checked out. After spending a half-hour looking at the RV and giving it a clean bill of health (along with staple-gunning a loose piece of fabric), the mechanic sent us off – refusing payment. I love small-town mechanics. They sent us off with wishes to enjoy our honeymoon, so we’ve decided to make this RV adventure an extension of our Africa honeymoon. If anyone heads through Hesperia for some weird reason, Al Couvalt’s RV Service Center is great! And Al answers the phone 🙂

The service center was located near a few RV dealers, and we decided to stop by to see what current models looked like. Our RV still felt like home when we got back, but man! Some of the new massive RVs are crazy inside. Fireplaces, huge living rooms, flatscreens everywhere, etc. We also met a funny Armenian salesman who unexpectedly spent a long time expressing his feelings of kinship with Jews. (And an admiration of our ‘sales skills’.)

In Victorville we stopped to fuel up and then grabbed some internet and electricity at a local Starbucks. There we got a recommendation for a happening night spot. (In a small town on a Monday night. Cool!) The place was an LGBT club (open to all) that had karaoke and we had a great time, joining a birthday celebration for the evening and meeting some locals. We overnighted at Walmart yesterday, although we had a million options in the desert.

Yesterday we headed up Scenic Highway 395, deeper into the desert, for an overnight stop at Fossil Falls, where there are ironically no fossils and no falls. The night sky here is wild, and I’m thrilled that we’ll be in the desert for the upcoming Perseids.

posted by jayhorowitz




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