George’s Birthday Adventure: Episode 3

The saga of George’s Birthday Adventure continues as Camp Granola finally reaches the Mojave on Day 4.

Show me the Mojave…

After a grueling cross-country drive, we finally got down to Camp Granola business. Foregoing any extra stops in the fabulous states of New Mexico and Arizona aside from a couple of quick geocaches, we boogied to the Mojave National Preserve and to the beginning of our camping, which is obviously what we enjoy most. And it was a good thing we boogied…because in the Mojave, when you second-guess yourself and don’t take the appropriate exit, you find yourself going a long way before the next.

Arizona scenery certainly makes the drive worthwhile.

Having reviewed maps of the Mojave area before we left, I knew we’d still get to where we were going, even if it was the long way. In some ways, I’m glad we did. The Mojave is a marvel of diversity and also enormous. Had we gone directly to the campground, we would have missed much of the grooviness along Kelbaker Road which is vastly different from the Essex Road area. Since we were to only have one full day to see what the Mojave was all about, it was nice to at least glimpse some of the other wonders it holds, even if we wouldn’t be able to give it its due in terms of the attention it deserves.

The flipside of going the long way is that we arrived to camp on the late side. Initially we pulled into the Midhills campground which was deserted. Upon arrival we discovered that the water system was under repair. And while we’re fine with primitive camping, we weren’t prepared to have hauled in all the water we needed for the duration of our stay.

So, having come in the hard way, we continued on the “corduroy” road back down to the main campground at Hole In The Wall. It was worth the bone-jarring drive to have access to the little water we tend to use around camp as well as a friendly and informative camp host.

Blowing in the wind…

Rolling in late, we quickly grabbed a campsite at got busy setting up. And while I make that sound easy, this was one tough pitch. If you’re at all familiar with the winds that can blast through the southwest, you’ll understand the challenge of pitching a tent under those conditions.

The Hole in the Wall Campground - our home for a few days. Not too shabby eh?

A normal pitch for us involves leisurely installing tent poles, then the fly, followed by staking. In what the Mojave was dishing out that evening, there was no way that was going to happen! We had to employ a modified pitch technique involving frantically staking first (and giving the RV campers quite a good laugh), then installing poles and fly. Doesn’t make for the best results but at least Big Agnes isn’t floating across the Mojave as we speak. And yes, I did use my child as ballast in the pre-staking moments. Nothing is sacred when getting your shelter set up hangs in the balance. Plus, he makes a good over-sized rock.

Settling in…

This is where putting the kids to work comes in very handy. Fred was set the task of keeping the freaked out dog calm in the car. Dobby was impressively disapproving of the wind so all we could do to keep him out of the way was to let Fred comfort the little booger in the car.

Georgie on the other hand was a big help once we talked him out of heading for the hills when we got there. Apparently the lure of the mountains was nearly irresistible to him and we had to convince him that setting up camp needed to be our top priority. Of course I was secretly quite tickled by his enthusiasm.

After with a simple-but-yummy dinner prepped by Jester in the tent vestibule – another camping modification made necessary by wind, we drifted off to sleep early, completely exhausted. And that’s how we brought Day 4 of George’s Birthday Adventure to an end.

And now for your moment of green…

We only got a taste of the astounding Mojave Desert but it was worth it.