Thursday, February 22, 2007

"This seems like a good road..."

The "Harry Wade Exit Route" is basically an unpaved freeway. Major thoroughfare. Countless trails heading off the sides of it. Some can be a bit confusing as there are signs on the Wade road to the effect of "driving permitted on roads only" - but no specification of which roads are permitted.

I came to what seemed like the correct turn - the first part of it was a little sketchy ... just a 2-track, but it then turned into a well-established path.

The path to destruction is paved with good intentions...





The the trail just stopped. Not faded ... stopped.

It sort of opened up into a wash area for a bit & I followed what seemed to be really old 2-tracks. Some seemed to start heading somewhere, others just turned out to be just the natural grain of the desert mountains - in any case, my track log started to look like a toddler's etch-a-sketch drawing...

"Jon to base, ?!?**?!! - over"




Continuing on I encountered remnants of these two-track paths & it seemed they were all chunks of what was once a road that went all the way through. Cool. This must be the way.

Or ... not.




Alright. Someone probably doesn't want me here. I can take a hint.

Lessse, I've got a cellphone with hires camera in it, digital camera, a couple notebooks, printed maps from the computer, and a GPS. Pretty much covered all the offenses listed I think. Next time I'll bring an easel & do some oil paintings.

Like I said ... I can take a hint ... but I'll take it later.

I'm sooooo close to the intended route, fuel is potentially an issue at this point, and I have little more than a vague idea where I am because I realize at this point my GPS is freaking out. Never seen it do anything like this. Regardless of what I set the map resolution & zoom to, the "local roads" won't display (!?) In fact, I notice nothing is displaying other than the 15 and airport names. Major cities, nothing. The "local roads" & placenames will appear for a split second when I zoom in & out, but then disappear & I'm left with a blank screen showing my tracklog & that's it.

The way points are still there & I'm only a couple miles from the next waypoint which should put me on "Irvine Road" or something like that. This is just a sign & didn't indicate in what direction the restricted area lay - I had to get out of there somehow & figured if there was SERIOUS danger there would be something more significant that words stuck to a post in the ground.

Sure enough ... there was something more...






This was killing me (no pun intended) - at this point I was just over a mile from the next waypoint & there was an easy go around on a bank to the the left of the barbed wire...


Let's think about this ...




I walked around the area for about 15 minutes debating the options & trying in vain to pull something useful off the GPS... I finally realized that sans, GPS I was essentially flying blind & even though I could get around this obstacle, I have no idea what lay ahead. Plus the signs all indicated there was live, unexploded ordinance all over the place...

Having never actually been blown up before, I don't have much insight as to the dangers of these places. I think the tipping point of the decision to turn around was a message I got from a friend yesterday who actually works as a specialist on a military bombing range ... some funny/scary stuff ...

Here's what he had to say...


So ... I turn around, & backtrack to the shoe tree instead...


A desert shoe tree:




Even though the intended route didn't work out - there was still plenty of opportunity for dirt riding ... just roll off the freeway & pick a direction...




Eventually I hit Baker & my GPS was still acting funny - frustrating as I didn't want to go exploring dirt roads in the waining light with no GPS...I've heard the powerline road connects Baker to just before Barstow but hadn't been on it before - given how the "exploring" of this area had gone so far I wasn't really confident to use the remaining daylight up hitting dead ends or fences ... reluctantly, I jumped on the 15 south...


But that didn't last long.

This is stupid. In the middle of the desert & I'm sitting in traffic? I could see powerlines in the distance ... lots of them. Anywhere with that many powerlines HAS to have a service road of some sort ... Unfortunately the 15 has barbed wire lining nearly the entire length between Baker & Barstow it seems & cutting it would be an offense of some sort I'm sure. BUT it doesn't line the entire length! There are breaks! The first break I came to become an offramp & headed across the desert toward powerlines & freedom.


All was not lost.





Eventually this road ended here - SUPER easy to find - it just deposits you right here a few miles from Barstow.

You can see the powerline (& road underneath them) heading over the hills in the distance.




Back on the freeway for the slab ride home. Being on the bike was the ONLY way to travel for this last leg ... something big happened on the northbound 15 & they had to land a helicopter on the freeway & park a fleet of emergency vehicles. The line of headlights from spectator slowing & backed up traffic could probably be seen from space...