Crossing the Mojave desert is a rather different experience to driving in England. The distances are huge and the towns small or non-existant. It is possible to drive for ages without sight of a single house or even track leading off the road. Of course the vegetation is a little different too.
We have passed through forests of Joshua Trees for miles upon miles, creosote bush scrub for an equal number of miles and various variations on a theme. Most of Friday has been spent in the Mojave National Preserve, run by the National Park Service and in some ways a little more similar to English National Parks than most as it contains privately owned farmed (ranched) land and hunting also occurs. The park centre is in the town of Kelso, to call it a town would be a little generous as its population is about 24 people but the visitors’ centre is in the wonderfully restored old station building with exhibitions on the park wildlife, history and the railroad that still carries goods across America. Information was duely exchanged with the staff on duty.
A visit to the Kelso dunes is a must. These dunes rise almost 200m (600ft) from the floor of the surrounding desert area and are formed as north-westerly winds meet a line of mountains. The sand carried by these winds are dropped as the air swirls leaving this line of dunes. The sands are fascinating as they groan and buzz as they slip down the dune face making a very eerie sound.
We are moving on next to Joshua Tree National Park, across miles more of empty spaces!