Trip Reports - 2000 - Anza Borrego
By Robb Anderson and Ana Romero
At first I wasn't sure that I wanted to go; I mean there was an air show at Point Mugu on the same weekend for cryin' out loud!
"Of course, I had fun in Shoshone last month. These Desert Explorers are really great people," I said to Ana who was trying her best to convince me to take her out to the desert for a fun weekend of off-roading and camping. She twisted my arm and I started packing and preparing my 4Runner for the trip.
"What time do we need to be there?" I asked.
"8 a.m. Saturday" was her reply.
Let's see...if it takes 2 and a half hours to get to the desert...hmmmm....
FIVE THIRTY IN THE MORNING!!! ON A SATURDAY??? This better be worth it!
We arrived at the designated meeting place (only a couple minutes late...no matter what Ana says!) and no John Mclean...and I heard someone mention the words: "seldom seen." At the time I didn't know what they meant.
We were told that John broke down and the trip was cancelled! (I immediately began calculating how long it would take to get to Point Mugu for the air show). Then a guy named John Page stepped up and said he would be willing to lead us through the badlands. Everyone was agreeable and off into the desert we went.
One of our first stops was to check out this interesting bicycle built for the railways. A couple was planning on riding these contraptions up the rails for miles out in the heat of the day. To each his own. I prefer the smooth air-conditioned ride of my Toyota.
Next, we stopped to hike in search of pictographs and jumping cholla! I found some cool lizards and started to make some new friends in Matt and Vanessa. We even found the pictographs! Then it was time to drive. And drive we did. What a blast those drop-offs were! The adrenaline really flows well when the rear tire gets off the ground that high! WOW! What a rush. I've never done anything that radical in my truck before. It was a first for several of us, and John said we came through it all like pros.
When we stopped for lunch, I was greeted by a soggy tuna salad sandwich....mmmm! At least the sodas were still cold, and the brownies were fresh. Lunch gave me a chance to check out some of the "stuff" on the other vehicles. CB radios, GPS's, tires, lockers, and any other secret weapons I need to purchase for my truck. After lunch, we drove more and got to see Sand Canyon, and found more new friends in Dan and Joe, and Bob and Sally. "I'm having a great time! This was really a good call," I said to Ana. Then, for some reason, (I never really understood) we had to drive all the way back to some other wash to camp for the night, and it was a long, long way away. So we drove...fast...really fast...we were passing sand rails and baja bugs...or so it seemed. I was just trying to keep up with Matt and Vanessa, bless their hearts!
We reached camp. As it was quickly becoming dark; everyone scrambled to set up their camps. The wind must have been blowing 50 mph! Setting up the tent was a real challenge until Robb placed some good-sized rocks inside of the tent. The potluck was called off due to wind, so we all did the best that we could for dinner. It was cold hot dogs for us (thanks to Joe and Dan for the government-issued brew). After "dinner," we all gathered around the "campfire" (actually a propane lantern not much brighter than a candle), chewed the fat for awhile, and then hit the sack. I was just hoping that the tent wouldn't blow away in the night.
The next morning, we were off to the Pumpkin Patch to do some exploring and to rebuild some washouts. We threw 500 pounds of rocks into a washout so John could drive his Nissan through and the "plan" was that we would all follow. We watched him drive over our newly made road and a few rocks rolled back down the cliff as John continued up the road. Minutes later, John walked back down to check why we weren't right behind him. There we stood with worried looks on our faces busily tossing hundreds of pounds of rocks back into the washout. Dan was doing his best to engineer the best possible placement of each rock to ensure safe passage up the hill. John commented that we must have seen something we didn't like by the way we were tossing more boulders into the washout. At the time, none of us laughed. Then came the moment of truth...make or break...roll along or roll down.
Maybe it was the trust we had in John's experience as an off-roader, or the way Dan engineered the bridge, or perhaps those last few rocks that Vanessa tossed onto the heap.
Maybe it was a combination of all these things. We made it! Each and everyone. A few more rough areas, some low gear descents and we were home free. We saw many beautiful sights from some spectacular vantage points. Lunch was at the oasis with lots of laughter among our newfound friends. Thank you again, John for being our fearless leader and giving us a terrific trip and the confidence to tackle rough roads and sometimes hardly any road at all!