Monday, July 12, 2010

Amboy Crater - Spring Break Hike

The argument could be made that this post should have been titled Better Late than Never, primarily due to the amount of time it has taken me to share it.  Nonetheless, some things are timeless.  Let's hope this is one of them.

When my son visited during his spring break there were only a couple of things he wanted to do.  One of those things was to climb Amboy Crater.  Climbing an actual volcanic crater does seem like the kind of adventure worthy of sharing with your 13 year old classmates upon return to school, so we made it happen.  As luck would have it, our chosen April day was one which had 60mph winds and was just overall crappy.  So we delayed our hike a day and were rewarded with a near perfect, if a bit breezy, day.  The date of the hike (and the following photos) was April 6, 2010.  There are plenty of places on the 'net to find information about the crater, so rather than ramble on, just check out our pictures.  I hope you enjoy them as much as we enjoyed our hike.  

It was a beautiful, clear, sunny day

The wildflowers were in bloom

A little out of was quite windy and this little fella just wouldn't hold still.

Climbing into the crater from the southwest side.

At the top looking in the general direction of Amboy (note the other hikers on the trail below just over his left shoulder).

Falling?  Not quite.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Update on the missing Mojave Cross

As the article states, this isn't information that has been verified, but it does seem rather interesting...

If this is legitimate, it sure seems likely that someone knows the whereabouts of the Mojave Cross and makes it more likely to be found.  Stay tuned...

From the Desert Dispatch

Monday, May 10, 2010

Mojave Cross Torn Down and Stolen!

An icon located along a lonely desert road deep in the heart of the Mojave National Preserve is gone.

The Mojave Cross, June 2007.

The WWI memorial, located high atop "Sunrise Rock", was originally erected in 1934 by Veterans including John Riley Bembrey, a medic during the conflict. It has since been replaced by a more durable, metal cross in place of the weather-worn wooden one.   In my travels I pass the controversial landmark a few times a month.  Until this year the cross' history and struggle have only been important to a few.  That all changed early this year when the U.S. Supreme Court took the legal case of Salazar v. Buono in an effort to help decide the future of the cross' position within the Mojave National Preserve.  The High Court recently ruled on the case and, in part, stated that a land transfer to remove the cross from Federal land ruled against by the Ninth Court of Appeals was indeed a valid one and returned the case to the lower court for further action.  (There are tons of places on the net to find more some searching.)
The Mojave Cross (covered due to court order) in January of 2010.
The Cross is exposed shortly after vandals removed the court-ordered cover, June 2007 (the wooden box used to cover the cross is visible at the base of the rock.)

I was shocked today when I rode past Sunrise Rock only to find the Mojave Cross missing.  I walked around the base of the rock in the hopes of finding the fallen memorial.  Finding nothing, I then ascended the steep desert rocks in an effort to satisfy my curiosity.  Where had the Mojave Cross gone?  How could such a durable, heavy, large object that I had seen just one week earlier be gone?  Who could have committed such a cowardly act?  Upon arriving at the top of the rocks, I again saw nothing.  No fallen cross.  Nothing.  All that remains are some chunks of old concrete and three bolts, showing clear evidence of having been recently cut off.  Someone went there with a plan, there is no doubt.
All that remains.  Bolts have been cut off and the cross has been stolen.

It's a sad day when a piece of history is destroyed.  What's even worse to me is that someone probably had to drive 3 hours or more in order to steal this memorial to fallen soldiers of WWI.  It disgusts me to see how despicable some people truly are.  I hope the culprits are caught and convicted of this theft.  Whoever did this is cowardly and juvenile.

I stopped at the Headquarters of the Mojave National Preserve in Kelso to see what I could find out.  I spoke to a handful of employees (I think at least a couple of them were actually volunteers) who indicated that the box covering the cross had been removed sometime Saturday May 8th or Sunday May 9th and the cross was removed sometime during the overnight hours of Sunday or predawn hours Monday May 10th.  They told me one of the NPS Law Enforcement Rangers traveled out to Sunrise Rock early today (Monday) to investigate.  The NPS personnel I spoke to at the Kelso Depot explained to me that they were not authorized to comment further.

All photos Copyright 2007-2010, - may not be copied, reused, or distributed without permission.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Tacos in Amboy

It wasn't until long after I left the Juan Pollo catering trailer in Amboy last weekend that I realized I hadn't taken any pictures of those delicious tacos.  In an effort to provide the whole story to my reader(s), I went back to Amboy today for lunch.  Oh, the sacrifices I make for my reader(s).  Today's catch was one carne asada (beef) taco and one pollo asada (chicken) taco.  Lunch was mmmm, mmmm, good.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Lunch in Amboy and a Trip to the Cima General Store

Today I took a motorcycle ride through the Mojave National Preserve and made a couple of interesting stops along my journey.

My first stop was at Roy's Cafe in Amboy, CA. Roy's isn't actually in the Mojave National Preserve, but it was a nice place to stop just a few miles before I arrived at the MNP. In addition to the the weather being ideal for motorcycle riding, this weekend also happens to be the weekend when bikers from miles around make their annual pilgrimage (or is it a migration?) to Laughlin, Nevada for the Laughlin River Run. Normally this wouldn't even show up as a blip on my radar, but something special happens in Amboy during the River Run. Since 2005, the owner of Amboy has been Albert Okura, who also happens to own a chain of restaurants called Juan Pollo. Mr. Okura's restaurant ownership is significant because for the last couple of years Juan Pollo tacos have been sold in Amboy during the annual Laughlin River Run. I love those tacos and can't pass up a chance to enjoy a few in Amboy. Route 66 may not be what it once was, but those tacos are a step in the right direction. I sure hope Mr. Okura and Juan Pollo keep sending out the catering trailer to Amboy every year. I'll be there for the tacos.

Even a couple of law enforcement officers stopped in for a snack.

There were several tourists and bikers (several of them speaking French)enjoying a cool drink, a taco, and a beautiful day in the desert.

After enjoying a couple of carne asada tacos and a chicken taco (complete with onions, cilantro, and some great salsa) I headed for the Preserve. Upon arriving in the thriving town of Cima, CA I was surprised to see the Cima General store open for business.
A quick u-turn was in order. I arrived outside the General Store and parked next to a couple of dual-sport motorcycles near the entrance. I was pleased to see a fairly good selection of items in the very clean store, along with a few items reminiscent of the once booming railroad town of Cima.

I bought a can of my favorite energy drink and a very cool souvenir t-shirt, and spent a few minutes talking with Ray, who was manning the store. Ray explained that he and his wife are running the Cima General Store. His mother-in-law, Irene, used to run the store (and was the Postmaster at the US Post Office, formerly located right next door to the General Store), but the store was closed for about a year...until a few months ago when Ray and his wife reopened the store for business. They're currently only open Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from 9 to 5. Ray explained that they both have jobs elsewhere currently, but hope to open the store five days a week this coming summer. Ray went on to tell me that Cima has no water. The water they use comes from a well on a 40 acre plot of land the family owns six miles away. The water is piped in from the well to Cima. Ray explained that his late father-in-law put in the water lines back in the 1950's when the family moved to the area. He must have done a good job, because the water still flows to this day.

I really enjoyed my conversation with Ray. I learned a little about the history of the area, something I always enjoy. Oh, and Ray pointed out one of the unique offerings available at the Cima General Store, saying "We're the only place in the National Preserve that sells beer and wine...that's because we were selling it long before the Preserve was here."

So the next time you visit the Mojave National Preserve, whether for enjoying the desert or just passing through, be sure to stop by the Cima General Store for a cold drink or a snack. It's great to see historical places of the Mojave Desert restored and improved. I'll be stopping in whenever I pass through.

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